The preceding chapter will at once have indicated the defects under which the later classical literature of France laboured, and the remedies which were necessary for them. Those remedies began to be applied early in the reign of Charles X., and the literary revolution which accompanied them is called the Romantic movement. Strictly speaking, this movement did not affect, or rather was not supposed to affect, any branch of letters except the Belles Lettres; really its influence was far wider, and has affected every branch of literary composition. Nor is it yet exhausted, although more than two generations have passed since the current was started. As is usual in the later stages of such things, this influence is in part disguised under the form of apparent reactions, developments, modifications, and other eddies or backwaters of the great wave. But as the Romantic movement was above all things a movement of literary emancipation, it can never be said to be superseded until fresh chains are imposed on literature. Of this there is as yet no sign, except in the puerile and disgusting school of naturalism, a mere scum-flake — to keep up the metaphor — on the surface of the waters.
The literature of the Revolution, the Empire, and the early Restoration, which has been in part already surveyed, displayed the last effete products of the old classical tradition side by side with the vigorous but nondescript and tentative efforts at reform of Chateaubriand, Madame de Stael, Courier, and others. So the first products of the new movement found themselves side by side with what may be called a second generation of the transition. The names which chiefly illustrate this second generation must be dealt with before the Romantics proper are arrived at. The chief of them are Béranger, Lamartine, Lamennais, Cousin, Stendhal, Nodier, and the dramatists Alexandre Soumet and Casimir Delavigne. Most of these, while irresistibly impelled half way towards the movement, stood aloof from it in feeling and taste; others, such as Stendhal, exercised upon it an influence not much felt at first, but deep and lasting; one, Nodier, threw in his lot with it frankly and decidedly.
Pierre Jean de Béranger is one of the most original and not the least pleasant figures in the long list of French poets. His life, though long, was comparatively uneventful. Despite the particle of nobility, he belonged to the middle class, and rather to the lower than to the upper portion of it; for, if his father was a man of business, his grandfather was a tailor. He himself lived in his youth with an aunt at Péronne, was then apprenticed to a printer, and was so ill off that, in 1804, he was saved from absolute poverty only by the patronage of Lucien Bonaparte, to whom he had sent some of his verses, and who procured him a small government clerkship. He held this for some years. After the Restoration, Béranger, whose political creed was an odd compound of Bonapartism and Republicanism, got into trouble with the government for his political songs. He was repeatedly fined and imprisoned, but each sentence made him more popular. After the Revolution of July, however, he refused to accept any favours from the Orleanist dynasty, and lived quietly, publishing nothing after 1833. In 1848 he was elected to the Assembly, but immediately resigned his seat. He behaved to the Second Empire as he had behaved to the July monarchy, refusing all honours and appointments. He died in 1857. Béranger's poetical works consist entirely of Chansons, political, amatory, bacchanalian, satirical, philosophical after a fashion, and of almost every other complexion that the song can possibly take. Their form is exactly that of the eighteenth-century Chanson, the frivolity and licence of language being considerably curtailed, and the range of subjects proportionately extended. The popularity of Béranger with ordinary readers, both in and out of his own country, has always been immense; but a somewhat singular reluctance to admit his merits has been shown by successive generations of purely literary critics. In France his early contemporaries found fault with him on the one hand for being a mere chansonnier, and on the other, for dealing with the chanson in a graver tone than that of his masters, Panard, Collé, Gouffé, and his immediate predecessor and in part contemporary, Désaugiers. The sentimental school of the Restoration thought him vulgar and unromantic. The Romantics proper disdained his pedestrian and conventional style, his classic vocabulary. The neo-Catholics disliked his Voltairianism. The Royalists and the Republicans detested, and detest equally, though from the most opposite sides, his devotion to the Napoleonic legend. Yet Béranger deserves his popularity, and does not deserve the grudging appreciation of critics. His one serious fault is the retention of the conventional mannerism of the eighteenth century in point of poetic diction, and he might argue that time had almost irrevocably associated this with the chanson style. His versification, careless as it looks, is really studied with a great deal of care and success. As to his matter, only prejudice against his political, religious, and ethical attitude, can obscure the lively wit of his best work; its remarkable pathos; its sound common sense; its hearty, if somewhat narrow and mistaken, patriotism; its freedom from self-seeking and personal vanity, spite, or greed; its thorough humanity and wholesome natural feeling. Nor can it be fairly said that his range is narrow. Le Grenier, Le Roi d'Yvetot, Roger Bontemps, Les Souvenirs du Peuple, Les Fous, Les Gueux, cover a considerable variety of tones and subjects, all of which are happily treated. Béranger indeed was not in the least a literary poet. But there is room in literature for other than merely literary poets, and among these Béranger will always hold a very high place. The common comparison of him to Burns is in this erroneous, that the element of passion, which is the most prominent in Burns, is almost absent from Béranger, and that the unliterary character which was an accident with Burns was with Béranger essential. The point of contact is, that both were among the most admirable of song writers, and that both hit infallibly the tastes of the masses among their countrymen.
Alphonse Prat de Lamartine was in almost every conceivable respect the exact opposite to Béranger. He was born at Macon, on the 21st of October, 1791, of a good family of Franche Comté, which, though never very rich, had long devoted itself to arms and agriculture only. His father was a strong royalist, was imprisoned during the Terror, and escaped narrowly. Lamartine was educated principally by the Pères de la Foi, and, after leaving school, spent some time first at home and then in Italy. The Restoration gave him entrance to the royal bodyguard; but he soon exchanged soldiering for diplomacy, and was appointed attaché in Italy. He had already (1820) published the Méditations, his first volume of verse, which had a great success. Lamartine married an English lady in 1822, and spent some years in the French legations at Naples and Florence. He was elected to the Academy in 1829. After the revolution of July he set out for the East, but, being elected by a constituency to the Chamber of Deputies, returned. He acquired much fame as an orator, contributed not a little to the overthrow of Louis Philippe, and in 1848 enjoyed for a brief space something not unlike a dictatorship. Power, however, soon slipped through his hands, and he retired into private life. His later days were troubled by money difficulties, though he wrote incessantly. In 1867 he received a large grant from the government of Napoleon III., and died not long afterwards — in 1869. The chief works of Lamartine are, in verse, the already mentioned Méditations (of which a new series appeared in 1823), the Harmonies, 1829, the Recueillements, Le Dernier Chant du Pélerinage d'Harold, Jocelyn, La Chute d'un Ange, the two last being fragments of a huge epic poem on the ages of the world; in prose, Souvenirs d'Orient, Histoire des Girondins, Les Confidences, Raphael, Graziella, besides an immense amount of work for the booksellers, in history, biography, criticism, and fiction, produced in his later days. Lamartine's characteristics, both in prose and verse, are well marked. He is before all things a sentimentalist and a landscape-painter. He may indeed be said to have wrought into verse what Rousseau, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, and Chateaubriand had already expressed in prose, supplying only an additional, and perhaps original, note of meditative tenderness. Lamartine's verse is exquisitely harmonious, and frequently picturesque; but it is deficient in vigour and brilliancy, and marred by the perpetual current of sentimental complaining. Beyond this he never could get; his only important attempt in a different and larger style, the Chute d'un Ange, being, though not without merits, on the whole a failure. In harmony of verse and delicate tenderness of feeling his poetry was an enormous advance on the eighteenth century, and its power over its first readers is easily understood. But Lamartine made little, if any, organic change in the mechanism of French poetry, so far as its versification is concerned, while his want of range in subject equally disabled him from effecting a revolution. His best poems, such as Le Lac, Paysage dans le Golfe de Gênes, Le Premier Regret, are however among the happiest expressions of a dainty but rather conventional melancholy, irreproachable from the point of view of morals and religion, thoroughly well bred, and creditably aware of the beauties of nature, which it describes and reproduces with a great deal of skill.
The next name on the list belongs to a far stronger, if a less accomplished, spirit than Lamartine. Félicité Robert de Lamennais was born in 1782, at St. Malo. In the confusion of the last decade of the eighteenth century, when, as a contemporary bears witness, even persons holding important state offices had often received no regular education whatever, Lamennais was for the most part his own teacher. He betook himself, however, to literature, and in 1807 was appointed to a mastership in the St. Malo Grammar School. Shortly afterwards he published a treatise on 'The Church during the Eighteenth Century,' and taking orders before long followed it up by others. These placed him in the forefront of the Catholic reaction, of which Chateaubriand from the picturesque, and Joseph de Maistre from the philosophical side, were the leaders. He took priest's orders in 1816, and in 1817 published his Essai sur l'Indifférence en Matière de Religion. This is a sweeping defence of the absolute authority of the Church, but the 'rift within the lute' already appears. Lamennais bases this authority, according to a tradition of that very eighteenth century which he most ardently opposes, on universal consent. Although therefore the deductive portion of his argument is in thorough accordance with Roman doctrine, the inductive portion can hardly be said to be so, and it prepared the way for his subsequent change of front. For a time Lamennais contented himself with the hope of establishing a sect of liberal royalist Catholics. A rapid succession of journals, most of which were suppressed, led to the Avenir, in which Montalembert, Lacordaire, and others took part, and which, like some English periodicals of a later period, aimed directly at the union of orthodox religious principles of the Roman complexion with political liberalism, and a certain freedom of thought in other directions. The Avenir was definitely censured by Gregory XVI. in 1832, and Lamennais rapidly fell away from his previous orthodoxy. He had established himself in the country with a following of youthful disciples. Of these the best-known now is Maurice de Guérin, a feeble poet who died young, but who, with his abler sister Eugénie, interested Sainte-Beuve, Mr. Matthew Arnold, and others. Les Paroles d'un Croyant, which appeared in 1834, united speculative Republicanism of the most advanced kind with a direct defiance of Rome in matter of religion, and this was followed by a long series of works in the same spirit. Lamennais' ardent and ill-balanced temperament, the chief note of which was the most excessive personal vanity, no sooner threw off the yoke of orthodoxy than it ran to the opposite extreme, and the Catholic royalist of the first empire became an atheistic, or at most theistic, democrat. Lamennais died in 1854. He had a great influence both on men and on books in France, and his literary work is extremely remarkable. It bears the marks of his insufficient education and of his excitable temperament. In the Paroles d'un Croyant the style is altogether apocalyptic in its mystic and broken declamation, full of colour, energy, and vague impressiveness, but entirely wanting in order, lucidity, and arrangement. The earlier works show something of this, though necessarily not so much. Lamennais' literary, as distinguished from his political and social, importance consists in the fact that he was practically the first to introduce this style into French. He has since had notable disciples, among whom Michelet and even Victor Hugo may be ranked.
The contrast of the return from Lamennais to Cousin is almost as great as that of the change from Lamartine to Lamennais. The careers of the poet and the philosopher have indeed something in common, for Cousin's delicate, exquisite, and somewhat feminine prose style is a nearer analogue to the poetry of Lamartine even than the latter's own prose, and the sudden decline of Cousin's reputation in philosophy almost matches that of Lamartine's reputation as a poet. Victor Cousin was born in 1792, at Paris, and was one of the most brilliant pupils of the Lycée Charlemagne. He passed thence to the École Normale, and, in the year of the Restoration, became Assistant Professor to Royer Collard at the Sorbonne. He adopted vigorously the doctrines of that philosopher, which practically amounted to a translation of the Scottish school of Reid and Stewart, but he soon combined with them much that he borrowed from Kant and his successors in Germany. This latter country he visited twice; on the second occasion with the unpleasant result of an arrest. He soon returned to France, however, and became distinguished as a supporter of the liberal party. The years immediately before and after the July Revolution were Cousin's most successful time. His lectures were crowded, his eclecticism was novel and popular, and when after July itself he became officially powerful, he distinguished himself by patronising young men of genius. During the reign of Louis Philippe he was one of the most influential of men of letters, though curiously enough, he combined with his political liberalism a certain tendency to reaction in matters of pure literature. After 1848 he retired from public life, and, though he survived for nearly twenty years, produced little more in philosophy. His brilliant but patchy eclecticism had had its day, and he saw it; but he earned new and perhaps more lasting laurels by betaking himself to the study of French literary history, and producing some charming essays on the ladies of the Fronde. Cousin's history is interesting as an instance of the accidental prosperity which in the first half of this century the mixture of politics and literature brought to men of letters. But his own literary merits are very considerable. Without the freedom and originality of the great writers who were for the most part his juniors by ten or twenty years, he possessed a style studied from the best models of the seventeenth century, which, despite a certain artificiality, has great beauty. Besides editions of philosophical classics, the chief works of his earlier period are Fragments Philosophiques, 1827, Cours de l'Histoire de la Philosophie, 1827; of his later, Du Vrai, Du Beau et Du Bien, and his studies on the women of the seventeenth century.
The author now to be noticed has found little place hitherto in histories of literature, and estimates of his positive value are even yet much divided. Henri Beyle, who wrote under the name of De Stendhal, was born at Grenoble, in January, 1783. His family belonged to the middle class, though, unfortunately, Beyle allowed himself during the Empire to be called M. de Beyle, and incurred not a little ridicule in consequence. His literary alias was also, it may be noticed, arranged so as to claim nobility. He was a clever boy, but manifested no special predilection for any profession. At last he entered the army, and served in it (chiefly in the non-combatant branches) on some important occasions, including the campaigns of the St. Bernard, of Jena, and of Moscow. He also held some employments in the civil service of the Empire. At the Restoration he went to Italy, which was always his favourite place of residence; but when in 1821 political troubles began to arise, he was 'politely' expelled by the Austrian police. After this he lived chiefly in Paris, making part of his living by the unexpected function of contributing to the London New Monthly Magazine. He knew English well, admired our literature, and visited London more than once. Being, as far as he was a politician at all, a Bonapartist, he was not specially interested in the Revolution of 1830; but it was profitable to him, for through some of his friends he was appointed French consul, first at Trieste, and then (the Austrians objecting) at Civita Vecchia. He lived, however, chiefly at Rome, and travelled a good deal. Latterly his health was weak, and he died at Paris, in 1842, of apoplexy. He was buried at Montmartre; but, with his usual eccentricity, his epitaph was by his direction written in Italian, and he was described as a Milanese. Beyle's character, personal and literary, was very peculiar. In temperament, religious views, and social ideas he was a belated philosophe of the Diderot school. But in literature he had improved even on Diderot, and very nearly anticipated the full results of the Romantic movement, while in politics, as has been said, he was an imperialist. His works are pretty voluminous. They consist of novels (La Chartreuse de Parme, Armance, Le Rouge et le Noir, Mémoires d'un Touriste, etc.); of criticism (Histoire de la Peinture en Italie, Racine et Shakespeare, Mélanges); of biography (Lives of Napoleon, Haydn, Mozart, Metastasio, etc.); of topographical writing of a miscellaneous kind (Promenades dans Rome, Naples et Florence, etc.); and lastly, of a singular book entitled De l'Amour, which unites extraordinary acuteness and originality of thought with cynicism of expression and paradox of theory. In this book, and in his novels, Beyle made himself the ancestor of what has been called successively realism and naturalism in France. Perhaps, however, his most remarkable work was Mérimée, of whose family he was a friend, and who, far excelling him in merit of style if not in freshness of thought, learnt beyond all doubt from him his peculiar and half-affected cynicism of tone, his curious predilection for the apparently opposed literatures of England and Southern Europe, and not improbably also his imperialism. Beyle is a difficult author to judge briefly, the contradictions, affectations, and oddities in him demanding minute examination. Of his power, intrinsic and exerted on others, there is no doubt.
The three remaining writers require shorter notice. Charles Nodier, who was born at Besançon in 1780, and died at Paris in 1844, is one of the most remarkable failures of a great genius in French literary history. He did almost everything — lexicography, text-editing, criticism, poetry, romance — and he did everything well, but perhaps nothing supremely well. If an exception be made to this verdict, it must be in favour of his short tales, some of which are exquisite, and all but, if not quite, masterpieces. As librarian of the Mazarin Library, Nodier was a kind of centre of the early Romantic circle, and, though he was more than twenty years older than most of its members, he identified himself thoroughly with their aims and objects. His consummate knowledge of the history and vocabulary of the French tongue probably had no mean influence on that conservative and restorative character which was one of the best sides of the movement. Casimir Delavigne was born at Havre in 1793. He first distinguished himself by his Messéniennes, a series of satires or patriotic jeremiads on the supposed degradation of France under the Restoration. Then he took to the stage, and produced successively Les Vêpres Siciliennes, Marino Faliero, Louis XI. (well known in England from the affection which several English tragic actors have shown for the title part), Les Enfants d'Edouard, etc. He also wrote other non-dramatic poems, most of them of a political character. Casimir Delavigne is a writer of little intrinsic worth. He held aloof from the Romantic movement, less from dislike to its extravagances and its cliquism, than from genuine weakness and inability to appreciate the defects of the classic tradition. He is in fact the direct successor of Ducis and Marie Joseph Chénier, having forgotten something, but learned little. The defects of his poems are parallel to those of his plays. His patriotism is conventional, his verse conventional, his expression conventional, though the convention is in all three cases slightly concealed by the skilful adoption of a certain outward colouring of energy and picturesqueness. He was not unpopular in his day, being patronised to a certain extent by the extreme classical party, and recommended to the public by his liberal political principles. But he is almost entirely obsolete already, and is never likely to recover more than the reputation due to fair literary workmanship in an inferior style. Alexandre Soumet was another dramatist of the same kind, but perhaps of a less artificial stamp. He adhered to the old model of drama, or to something like it, more, apparently, because it satisfied his requirements, than from abstract predilection for it, or from dislike to the new models. His Norma has the merit of having at least suggested the libretto of one of the most popular of modern operas, and his Une Fête sous Néron is not devoid of merit. Soumet was in the early days of the movement a kind of outsider in it, and it cannot be said that at any time he became an enemy, or that his work is conspicuous for any fatal defects according to the new method of criticism. A deficiency of initiative, rather than, as in Delavigne's case, a preference of inferior models, seems to have been the reason why he did not advance further.
It was, however, reserved for a younger generation actually to cross the Rubicon, and to achieve the reform which was needed. The assistance which the vast spread of periodical literature lent to such an attempt has been already noted, and it was in four periodical publications that the first definite note of the literary revolution was sounded. In these the movement was carried on for many years before the famous representation of Hernani, which announced the triumph of the innovators. These four publications were: first, Le Conservateur Littéraire (a journal published as early as 1819, before the Odes of Victor Hugo, who was one of its main-stays, or even the Méditations of Lamartine had appeared); secondly, the Annales Romantiques, which began in 1823, with perhaps the most brilliant list of contributors that any periodical — with the possible exception of the nearly contemporary London Magazine— ever had; a list including Chateaubriand, Lamennais, Lamartine, Joseph de Maistre (posthumously), Alfred de Vigny, Henri de Latouche, Hugo, Nodier, Béranger, Casimir Delavigne, Madame Desbordes-Valmore, and Delphine Gay, afterwards Madame de Girardin. Although not formally, this was practically a kind of annual of the Muse Française, which had pretty nearly the same contributors, and conducted the warfare in more definitely polemical manner by criticism and precept, as well as by example. Lastly, there was the important newspaper — a real newspaper this — called Le Globe, which appeared in 1822. The other Romantic organs had been either colourless as regards politics, or else more or less definitely conservative and monarchical, the middle age influence being still strong. The Globe was avowedly liberal in politics. Men of the greatest eminence in various ways, Jouffroy, Damiron, Pierre Leroux, and Charles de Rémusat, wrote in it; but its literary importance in history is due to the fact that here Sainte-Beuve, the critic of the movement, began, and for a long time carried out the vast series of critical studies of French and other literature which, partly by destruction and partly by construction, made the older literary theory for ever obsolete. The various names in poetry and prose of this romantic movement must now be reviewed.
Victor Marie Hugo was born at Besançon on the 28th of February, 1802. His father was an officer of distinction in Napoleon's army, his mother was of Vendean blood and of royalist principles, which last her son for a long time shared. His literary activity began extremely early. He was, as has been seen, a contributor to the Conservateur Littéraire at the age of seventeen, and, with much work which he did not choose to preserve, some which still worthily finds a place in his published collections appeared there. Indeed, with his two brothers, Abel and Eugène, he took a principal share in the management of the periodical. His Odes et Poésies Diverses appeared in 1822, when he was twenty, and were followed two years afterwards by a fresh collection. In these poems, though great strength and beauty of diction are apparent, nothing that can be called distinct innovation appears. It is otherwise with the Odes et Ballades of 1826, and the Orientales of 1829. Here the Romantic challenge is definitely thrown down. The subjects are taken by preference from times and countries which the classical tradition had regarded as barbarous. The metres and rhythm are studiously broken, varied, and irregular; the language has the utmost possible glow of colour as opposed to the cold correctness of classical poetry, the completest disdain of conventional periphrasis, the boldest reliance on exotic terms and daring neologisms. Two romances in prose, more fantastic in subject and audacious in treatment than the wildest of the Orientales, had preceded the latter. The first, Han d'Islande, was published anonymously in 1823. It handled with much extravagance, but with extraordinary force and picturesqueness, the adventures of a bandit in Norway. The second, Bug Jargal, an earlier form of which had already appeared in the Conservateur, was published in 1826. But the rebels, of whom Victor Hugo was by this time the acknowledged chief, knew that the theatre was at once the stronghold of their enemies, and the most important point of vantage for themselves. Victor Hugo's theatrical, or at least dramatic, début was not altogether happy. Cromwell, which was published in 1828, was not acted, and indeed, from its great length and other peculiarities, could hardly have been acted. It is rather a romance thrown into dramatic form than a play. In its published shape, however, it was introduced by an elaborate preface, containing a full exposition of the new views which served as a kind of manifesto. Some minor works about this time need not be noticed. The final strokes in verse and prose were struck, the one shortly before the revolution of July, the other shortly after it, by the drama of Hernani, ou l'Honneur Castillan, and the prose romance of Notre Dame de Paris. The former, after great difficulties with the actors and with outside influences — it is said that certain academicians of the old school actually applied to Charles X. to forbid the representation — was acted at the Théâtre Français on the 25th of February, 1830. The latter was published in 1831. The reading of these two celebrated works, despite nearly sixty years of subsequent and constant production with unflagging powers on the part of their author, would suffice to give any one a fair, though not a complete, idea of Victor Hugo, and of the characteristics of the literary movement of which he has been the head. The main subject of Hernani is the point of honour which compels a noble Spaniard to kill himself, in obedience to the blast of a horn sounded by his mortal enemy, at the very moment of his marriage with his beloved. Notre Dame de Paris is a picture by turns brilliant and sombre of the manners of the mediaeval capital. In both the author's great failing, a deficient sense of humour and of proportion, which occasionally makes him overstep the line between the sublime and the ridiculous, is sometimes perceivable. In both, too, there is a certain lack of technical neatness and completeness in construction. But the extraordinary command of the tragic passions of pity, admiration, and terror, the wonderful faculty of painting in words, the magnificence of language, the power of indefinite poetical suggestion, the sweep and rush of style which transports the reader, almost against his will and judgment, are fully manifest in them. As a mere innovation, Hernani is the most striking of the two. Almost every rule of the old French stage is deliberately violated. Although the language is in parts ornate to a degree, the old periphrases are wholly excluded; and when simple things have to be said they are said with the utmost simplicity. The cadence and arrangement of the classical Alexandrine are audaciously reconstructed. Not merely is the practice of enjambement (or overlapping of lines and couplets, as distinct from the rigid separation of them) frequent and daring, but the whole balance and rhythm of the individual line is altered. Ever since Racine the one aim of the dramatist had been to make the Alexandrine run as monotonously as possible. The aim of Victor Hugo was to make it run with the greatest possible variety. In short, the whole theory of the drama was altered. The decade which followed the revolution of July was Victor Hugo's most triumphant period. A series of dramas, Marion de Lorme, Les Roi s'Amuse, Lucrèce Borgia, Marie Tudor, Angelo, Les Burgraves, succeeded each other at short intervals, and were accompanied by four volumes of immortal verse, Les Feuilles d'Automne, Chants du Crépuscule, Les Voix Intérieures, Les Rayons et les Ombres. The dramas continued to show Victor Hugo's command of tragic passion, his wonderful faculty of verse, his fertility in moving situations, and in incidents of horror and grandeur; but they did not indicate an increased acquaintance with those minor arts of the playwright, which are necessary to the success of acted dramas, and which many of Hugo's own pupils possessed to perfection. Accordingly, towards the end of the decade, some reaction took place against them, and their author ceased to write for the stage. His purely poetical productions showed, however, an increase at once of poetical and of critical power; and of the four volumes mentioned, each one contains many pieces which have never been excelled in French poetry, and which may be fairly compared with the greatest poetical productions of the same kind in other literatures. Meanwhile, Victor Hugo's political ideas (which never, in any of their forms, brought him much luck, literary or other) had undergone a remarkable change. During the reign of Louis Philippe, he, who had recently been an ardent legitimist, became, first, a constitutional royalist (in which capacity he accepted from the king a peerage), then an extreme liberal, and at last, when the revolution of 1848 broke out, a republican democrat. He was banished for his opposition to Louis Napoleon, and fled, first to Brussels, and then to the Channel Islands, launching against his enemy a prose lampoon, Napoléon le Petit, and then a volume of verse, Les Châtiments, of marvellous vigour and brilliancy. During the ten years before this his literary work had been for the most part suspended, at least as far as publication is concerned. But his exile gave a fresh spur to his genius. After four years' residence, first in Jersey, then in Guernsey, he published Les Contemplations (2 vols.), a collection of lyrical pieces, not different in general form from the four volumes which had preceded them; and, in 1859, La Légende des Siècles, a marvellous series of narrative or pictorial poems representing scenes from different epochs of the history of the world. These three volumes together represent his poetical talent at its highest. He, at other times before and since, equalled but never surpassed them. In La Légende des Siècles the variety of the music, the majesty of some of the pieces and the pathos of others, the rapid succession of brilliant dissolving views, and the complete mastery of language and versification at which the poet arrived, combine to produce an effect not easily paralleled elsewhere. The Contemplations, as their name imports, are chiefly meditative. They are somewhat unequal, and the tone of speculative pondering on the mysteries of life which distinguishes them sometimes drops into what is called sermonising, but their best pieces are admirable. During the whole of the Second Empire Victor Hugo continued to reside in Guernsey, publishing, in 1862, a long prose romance, Les Misérables, one of the most unequal of his books; then another, the exquisite Travailleurs de la Mer, as well as a volume of criticism on William Shakespeare, some passages in which rank among the best pieces of ornate prose in French; and, in 1869, L'Homme qui Rit, a historical romance of a somewhat extravagant character, recalling his earliest attempts in this kind, but full of power. A small collection of lyric verse, mostly light and pastoral in character, had appeared under the title of Chansons des Rues et des Bois. The Revolution which followed the troubles of France, in 1870, restored Victor Hugo to his country only to inflict a bitter, though passing, annoyance on him. He had somewhat mistaken the temper of the National Assembly at Bordeaux to which he had been elected. He even found himself laughed at, and he retired to Brussels in disgust. Here he was identified by public opinion with the Communists, and subjected to some manifestations of popular displeasure, which, unfortunately, his sensitive temperament and vivid imagination magnified unreasonably. Returning to France after the publication of nearly his weakest book, L'Année Terrible, he lived quietly, but as a kind of popular and literary idol, till his death in 1885. Of his abundant later (including not a little posthumous) work Quatre-Vingt-Treize, another historical romance, and two books of poetry (a second series of the Légende des Siècles, 1877, and Les Quatre Vents de l'Esprit, 1881) at their best, equal anything he has ever done. The second Légende is inferior to the first in variety of tone and in vivid pictorial presentment, but equals it in the declamatory vigour of its best passages. Les Quatre Vents de l'Esprit is, perhaps, the most striking single book that Victor Hugo produced, containing as it does lyric and narrative work of the very finest quality, and a drama of an entirely original character, which, after more than sixty years of publicity, showed a new side of the author's genius.
This somewhat minute account of Victor Hugo's work must be supplemented by some general criticism of his literary characteristics. As will probably have been observed, from what has already been said, there were remarkable gaps in his ability. In purely intellectual characteristics, the characteristics of the logician and the philosopher, he was weak. He was also, as has been said, deficient in the sense of humorous contrast, and in the perception of strict literary proportion. Long years of solitary pre-eminence, and of the frequently unreasonable worship of fools as well as of wise men, gave him, or encouraged in him, a tendency to regard the universe too much from the point of view of France in the first place, Paris in the second, and Victor Hugo in the third. His unequalled skill in the management of proper names tempted him to abuse them as instruments of sonority in his verse. He is often inaccurate in fact, presenting in this respect a remarkable resemblance to his counterpart and complement Voltaire. The one merit which swallowed up almost all others in classical and pseudo-classical literature is wanting in him — the sense of measure. He is a childish politician, a visionary social reformer. But, when all this has been said, there remains a sum total of purely literary merits which suffices to place him on a level with the greatest in literature. The mere fact that he is equally remarkable for the exquisite grace of his smaller lyrics, and for the rhetorical magnificence of his declamatory passages, argues some peculiar and masterly idiosyncrasy in him. No poet has a rarer and more delicate touch of pathos, none a more masculine or a fuller tone of indignation. The great peculiarity of Victor Hugo is that his poetry always transports. No one who cares for poetry at all, and who has mastered the preliminary necessity of acquaintance with the French language and French prosody, can read any of his better works without gradually rising to a condition of enthusiasm in which the possible defects of the matter are altogether lost sight of in the unsurpassed and dazzling excellence of the manner. This is the special test of poetry, and there is none other. The technical means by which Victor Hugo produces these effects have been already hinted at. They consist in a mastery of varied versification, in an extraordinary command of pictorial language, dealing at once with physical and mental phenomena, and, above all, in a certain irresistible habit of never allowing the iron to grow cold. Stroke follows stroke in the exciting and transporting process in a manner not easily paralleled in other writers. Other poets are often best exhibited by very short extracts, by jewels five words long. This is not so with Victor Hugo. He has such jewels, but they are not his chief titles to admiration. The ardour and flow, as of molten metal, which characterise him are felt only in the mass, and must be sought there. What has been said of his verse is true, with but slight modifications, of his prose, which is however on the whole inferior. His unequalled versification is a weapon which he could not exchange for the less pointed tool of prose without losing much of his power. His defects emerge as his merits subside. But taking him altogether, it may be asserted, without the least fear of contradiction, that Victor Hugo deserves the title of the greatest poet hitherto, and of one of the greatest prose writers of France. Such a faculty, thrown into almost any cause, must have gone far to make it triumph. But in a cause of such merits, and so stoutly seconded by others, as that of the destruction of the classical tradition which had cramped and starved French literature, there could be no doubt of success when a champion such as Victor Hugo took up and carried through to the end the task of championship.
It is very seldom that the two different forces of criticism and creation work together as they did in the case of the Romantic movement. Each had numerous representatives, but the point of importance is that each was represented by one of the greatest masters. Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, the critic not merely of the Romantic movement, but of the nineteenth century, and in a manner the first scientific and universal critic that the world has seen, was born at Boulogne on the 23rd of December, 1804. His father held an office of some importance; his mother was of English blood. He was well educated, first at his native town, then at Paris. He began by studying medicine, but very soon turned to literature, and, as has been said, distinguished himself on the Globe. The most important of his articles in this paper were devoted to the French literature of the sixteenth century, and these were published as a volume, in 1828, with great success. Sainte-Beuve at once became the critic en titre of the movement, though he did not very long continue in formal connection with it. It was some time, however, before he resigned himself to purely critical work. Les Poésies de Joseph Delorme, Les Consolations, and Volupté were successive attempts at original composition, which, despite the talent of their author, hardly made much mark, or deserved to make it. He did not persevere further in a career for which he was evidently unfitted, but betook himself to the long series of separate critical studies, partly of foreign and classical literature, but usually of French, which made his reputation. The papers to which he chiefly contributed were the Constitutionnel and the Moniteur, and during the middle of this century his Monday feuilletons of criticism were the chief recurring literary event of Europe. These studies were at intervals collected and published in sets under the titles Critiques et Portraits Littéraires, Portraits Contemporains, Causeries du Lundi, and Nouveaux Lundis, the last series only finishing with his death in 1869. Besides this he had undertaken a single work of great magnitude in his Histoire de Port Royal, on which he spent some twenty years. He was elected to the Academy in 1845, and after the establishment of the Empire he was one of the few distinguished literary men who took its side. The first reward that he obtained was a professorship in the College de France; but some years before his death he received the senatorship, a lucrative position, and one which interfered very little with the studies of the occupant. In character Sainte-Beuve strongly resembled some of the epicureans of his favourite seventeenth century; but whatever faults he may have had were redeemed by much good-nature and an entire absence of literary vanity.
The importance of Sainte-Beuve in literature is historically, and as a matter of influence, superior even to that of the great poet with whom he was for some time in close friendship, though before very long their stars fell apart. Until his time the science of criticism had been almost entirely conducted on what may be called pedagogic lines. The critic either constructed for himself, or more probably accepted from tradition, a cut-and-dried scheme of the correct plan of different kinds of literature, and contented himself with adjusting any new work to this, marking off its agreements or differences, and judging accordingly. Here and there in French literature critics like Saint-Evremond, Fénelon, La Bruyère in part, Diderot, Joubert, had adopted another method, but the small acquaintance which most Frenchmen possessed of literature other than their own stood in the way of success. Sainte-Beuve was the first to found criticism on a wide study of literature, instead of directing a more or less narrow study of literature by critical rules. Victor Hugo himself has laid down, in the preface to the Orientales, one important principle — the principle that the critic has only to judge of the intrinsic goodness of the book, and not of its conformity to certain pre-established ideas. There remains the difficulty of deciding what is intrinsically good or bad. To solve this, the only way is, first, to prepare the mind of the critic by a wide study of literature, which may free him from merely local and national prejudices; and, secondly, to direct his attention not so much to cut-and-dried ideas of an epic, a sonnet, a drama, as to the object which the author himself had before him when he composed his work. In carrying out this principle it becomes obviously of great importance to study the man himself as well as his works, and his works as a whole as well as the particular sample before the judge. Sainte-Beuve was almost the first in France to set the example of the causerie critique, the essay which sets before the reader the life, circumstances, aims, society, and literary atmosphere of the author, as well as his literary achievements. This accounts for the extreme interest shown by the public in what had very commonly been regarded as one of the idlest and least profitable kinds of literature. At the same time the method has two dangers to which it is specially exposed. One is the danger of limiting the consideration to external facts merely, and giving a gossiping biography rather than a criticism. The other, and the more subtle danger, is the construction of a new cut-and-dried theory instead of the old one, by regarding every man as simply a product of his age and circumstances, and ticketing him off accordingly without considering his works themselves to see whether they bear out the theory by facts. In either case, the great question which Victor Hugo has stated, 'L'ouvrage est-il bon ou est-il mauvais?' remains unanswered in any satisfactory measure. Sainte-Beuve himself did not often fall into either error. His taste was remarkably catholic and remarkably fine. The only fault which can justly be found with him is the fault which naturally besets such a critic, the tendency to look too complacently on persons of moderate talent, whose merits he himself is perhaps the first to recognise fully, and to be proportionately unjust to the greater names whose merits, on good systems and bad alike, are universally acknowledged, in whose case it is difficult to say anything new, and who are therefore somewhat ungrateful subjects for the ingenious and delicate analysis which more mixed talents repay. But study of the work of such a man as Sainte-Beuve is an almost absolute safeguard against the intolerance of former days in matter of literature, and this is its great merit.
Around Victor Hugo were grouped not a few writers who were only inferior to himself. But, before mentioning the members of what is called the cénacle, or innermost Romantic circle, a third name of almost equal temporary importance to those of Hugo and Sainte-Beuve must be named — that of Alexandre Dumas. This writer, one of the most prolific, and in some respects one of the most remarkable of dramatists and novelists, was the son of a general in the revolutionary army, and was born, on the 23rd of July, 1806, at Villers Cotterets. He had hardly any education; but, coming to Paris at the age of twenty, he was fortunate enough to obtain a clerkship in the household of the Duke of Orleans. He tried literature almost at once, and in 1829 his Henri III. et sa Cour was played, and was a great success. This was a year before Hernani, and though Dumas had no pretence to rival Hugo in literary merit, his drama was quite as revolutionary in style, events, language, and general arrangement as Hugo's. But he had not heralded it by any general defiance, and it possessed (what his greater contemporary's dramatic work never fully possessed) the indefinable knowledge of the stage and its requirements, which always tells on an audience. After the Revolution of July, the daring play of Antony achieved an almost equal success, despite its attacks on the proprieties, attacks of which at that time French opinion was not tolerant in a serious play. Then he returned to the historical drama in the Tour de Nesle, another play of strong situations and reckless sacrifice of everything else to excitement. After this Dumas published many plays, of which Don Juan de Marana and Kean are perhaps the most extravagant, and Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle, 1839, the best. But before long he fell into a train of writing more profitable even than the drama. This was the composition of historical romances something in Scott's manner. The most famous of these, such as the Three Musketeers, La Reine Margot, and Monte Cristo, were produced towards the latter part of the reign of Louis Philippe, his early patron. He travelled a great deal, making books and money out of his travels; and sometimes, as when he was the companion of Garibaldi, finding himself in curious company. No man, probably, ever made so much money by literature in France as Dumas, though he was not equally skilled in keeping it. He died, in the midst of the disasters of his country, on Christmas Eve, 1870. Dumas' literary position and influence are not very easy to estimate, because of the strange extent to which he carried what is called collaboration, and his frank avowal of something very like plagiarism in many of the works which he wrote unassisted. Endeavours have even been made to show that his most celebrated works are the production of hack writers whom he paid to write under his name. Nor is there the least doubt that he did resort on a large scale to something like the practice of those portrait painters who employ their pupils to paint in the draperies, backgrounds, and accessories of their work. But that Dumas was the moving spirit still, and the actual author of what is best and most peculiar in the works that go by his name, is sufficiently proved by the fact that none of his assistants, whose names are in many cases known, and who in not a few instances subsequently attained eminence on their own account, have equalled or even resembled his peculiar style. Dumas' dramatic work is of but little value as literature properly so called. His forte is the already mentioned playwright's instinct, as it may be termed, which made him almost invariably choose and conduct his action in a manner so interesting and absorbing to the audience that they had no time to think of the merits of the style, the propriety of the morals, the congruity of the sentiments. His plays, in short, are intended to be acted, not to be read. Of his novels many are disfigured by long passages of the inferior work to be expected from mere hack assistants, by unskilful insertions of passages from his authorities, and sometimes by plagiarisms so audacious and flagrant, that the reader takes them as little less than an insult. His best work, however, such as the whole of the long series ranging from Les Trois Mousquetaires through Vingt Ans après to Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, a second long series of which La Reine Margot is a member, and parts of others, has peculiar and almost unique merits. The style is not more remarkable as such than that of the dramas; there is not always, or often, a well-defined plot, and the characters are drawn only in the broadest outline. But the cunning admixture of incident and dialogue by which Dumas carries on the interest of his gigantic narrations without wearying the reader is a secret of his own, and has never been thoroughly mastered by any one else.
While Dumas thus gave himself up to the novel of incident, two other writers of equally remarkable genius, and of greater merely literary power, also devoted themselves to prose fiction, and by this means exercised a wide influence on their generation. Honoré de Balzac was born at Tours, on the 20th of May, 1799. He was fairly well educated, but his father's circumstances compelled him to place his son in a lawyer's office. This Balzac could not endure, and he very shortly betook himself to literature, suffering very considerable hardships. The task he attempted was fiction, and his experience in it was unique. For years he wrote steadily, and published dozens of volumes, not merely without attaining success, but without deserving any. But few of these are ever read now, and when they are opened it is out of mere curiosity, a curiosity which meets with but little return. Yet Balzac continued, in spite of hardship and of ill success, to work on, and in his thirtieth year he made his first mark with Les Derniers Chouans, a historical novel, which, if not of great excellence, at least shows a peculiar and decided talent. From this time forward he worked with spirit and success in his own manner, and in twenty years produced the vast collection which he himself termed La Comédie Humaine, the individual novels being often connected by community of personages, and always by the peculiar fashion of analytical display of character which from them is identified with Balzac's name. The most successful of these are concerned with Parisian life, and perhaps the most powerful of all are Le Père Goriot, Eugénie Grandet, La Cousine Bette, La Peau de Chagrin, La Recherche de l'Absolu, Séraphita. The last is the best piece of mere writing that Balzac has produced. He had also a wonderful faculty for short tales (Le Chef-d'œuvre Inconnu, Une Passion dans le Désert, etc.). He tried the theatre, but failed. Notwithstanding Balzac's untiring energy (he would often work for weeks together with the briefest intervals of sleep) and the popularity of his books, he was always in pecuniary difficulties. These were caused partly by his mania for speculation, and partly by his singular habits of composition. He would write a novel in short compass, have it printed, then enlarge the printed sheets with corrections, and repeat this process again and again until the expenses of the mere printing swallowed up great part of the profits of the work. At last he obtained wealth, and, as it seemed, a prospect of happiness. In 1850 he married Madame Hanska, a rich Polish lady, to whom he had been attached for many years. He had prepared for a life of opulent ease at Paris with his wife; but a few months after his marriage he died of heart disease. Balzac is in a way the greatest of French novelists, because he is the most entirely singular and original. It has been said of him, with as much truth as exaggeration, that he has drawn a whole world of character after having first created it out of his own head. Balzac's characters are never quite human, and the atmosphere in which they are placed has something of the same unreality (though it is for the most part tragically and not comically unreal) as that of Dickens. Everything is seen through a kind of distorting lens, yet the actual vision is defined with the most extraordinary precision, and in the most vivid colours. Balzac had great drawbacks. Despite his noble prefix he cannot conceive or draw either a gentleman or a lady. His virtuous characters are usually virtuous in the theatrical sense only; his scheme of human character is altogether low and mean. But he can analyse vice and meanness with wonderful vigour, and he is almost unmatched in the power of conferring apparent reality upon what the reader nevertheless feels to be imaginary and ideal. It follows almost necessarily that he is happiest when his subject has a strong touch of the fantastic. The already mentioned Peau de Chagrin— a magic skin which confers wishing powers on its possessor but shrivels at each wish, shortening his life correspondingly — and Séraphita, a purely romantic or fantastic tale, are instances of this. Almost more striking than either are the Contes Drolatiques, tales composed in imitation of the manner and language of the sixteenth century. Here the grotesque and fantastic incidents and tone exactly suit the writer, and some of the stories are among the masterpieces of French literature. The same sympathy with the abnormal may be noticed in the Chef-d'œuvre Inconnu, where a solitary painter touches and retouches his supposed masterpiece till he loses all power of self-criticism, and at lasts exhibits triumphantly a shapeless and unintelligible daub of mingled colours. Balzac's style is not in itself of the best; it is clumsy, inelastic, and destitute of the order and proportion which distinguish the best French prose, but it is not ill suited to the peculiar character of his work.
With Balzac's name is inseparably connected, if only from the striking contrast between them, that of George Sand. Amandine Lucile Aurore Dupin, who took the writing name of George Sand, was born at Paris in 1804, and had a somewhat singular family history, of which it is enough to say here that she was descended through her father's mother from Marshal Saxe, the famous son of Augustus of Saxony and Aurore von Köningsmarck. At the age of eighteen she married a man named Dudevant, and was very unhappy, though it is rather difficult to determine on whom the blame of the unhappiness ought to rest. They separated after a few years, and she came to Paris, from her home at Nohant in Berry, to seek a living. She found it soon in literature, having met with a friend and companion in the novelist Jules Sandeau, and with a stern and most useful critic in Henri de Latouche. Her first novel of importance was Indiana, published in 1832. This was followed by Valentine, Lélia, Jacques, etc. The interest of all or most of these turns on the sufferings of the femme incomprise, a celebrated person in literature, of whom George Sand is the historiographer, if not the inventor. A long series of novels of this kind gave way, between 1840 and 1849, first to a series of philosophical rhapsodies, of which Spiridion is the chief, and then to one in which the political aspirations of the socialist Republicans appear. Of these, Consuelo, which is perhaps popularly considered the author's masterpiece, was the chief. Her private history was somewhat remarkable, and she succeeded in making at least two men of greater genius than herself, Alfred de Musset and Chopin, utterly miserable. They, however, afforded the subjects of two noteworthy books, Elle et Lui, and Lucrezia Floriani, the latter perhaps the most characteristic of all her early works. After the establishment of the Second Empire her tastes and habits became quieter. She lived chiefly, and latterly almost wholly, at Nohant, being greatly attached to the country; and she wrote many charming sketches of country life with felicitous introduction of patois, such as La Mare au Diable, François le Champi, La Petite Fadette. Some voluminous memoirs, published in 1854, dealt with her own early experiences. She lived till the age of seventy-two, dying in 1876, and never ceased to put forth novels which showed no distinct falling off in fertility or imagination, or in command of literary style. She must have written in all nearly a hundred books. As the chief characteristics of Balzac are intense observation, concentrated thought, and the most obstinate and unwearying labour, so the chief characteristic of George Sand is easy improvisation. She had an active and receptive mind which took in the surface of things, whether it was love, or philosophy, or politics, or scenery, or manners, with remarkable and indifferent facility. She had also a style which, if it cannot be ranked among the great literary styles from its absence of statuesque outline, and from its too great fluidity, was excellently suited for the task of improvisation. Her novels, therefore, slipped from her without the slightest mental effort, and appear to have cost her nothing. It is not true, in this case, that what has cost nothing is worth nothing. But even favourable critics admit that it is peculiarly difficult to read a novel of George Sand a second time, and this is perhaps a decisive test. She is, indeed, far more of an improvising novelist than Dumas, to whom the term has more often been applied, though she wrote better French, and attempted more ambitious subjects. The better characteristics of her novels reappeared, perhaps to greater advantage, in her numerous and agreeable letters, especially those to the novelist Flaubert.
In striking contrast with these three novelists was Prosper Mérimée, also a novelist for the most part, but, unlike them, a comparatively infertile writer292, and one of the most exquisite masters of French prose that the nineteenth century has seen. Mérimée was born in 1803, and was therefore almost exactly of an age with the writers just mentioned. For a time he took a certain share in the Romantic movement, but his distinguishing characteristic was a kind of critical cynicism, partly real, partly affected, which made him dislike and distrust exaggeration of all kinds. He accordingly soon fell off. Possessing independent means, and entering the service of the government, he was not obliged to write for bread, and for many years he produced little, devoting himself as much to archæology and the classical languages as to French. He accepted the Second Empire apparently from a genuine and hearty hatred of democracy, and was rewarded with the post of senator. But he had to assist Napoleon III. in his Cæsar, and to dance attendance on the Court, the latter duty being made somewhat less irksome to him by his personal attachment to the Empress. Two collections of letters, which have appeared since his death, one addressed to an unknown lady, and the other to the late Sir Antonio Panizzi, while adding to Mérimée's literary reputation, have thrown very curious light on his character, exhibiting him as a man who, with very genuine and hearty affections, veiled them under an outward cloak of cynicism, for fear of being betrayed into vulgarity and extravagance. He died in 1870, at the beginning of the troubles of France, by which he was deeply afflicted. The entire amount of Mérimée's work is, as has been said, not large, and during the last twenty years of his life it is almost insignificant. But such as it is, it has an enduring and monumental value, which belongs to the work of few of his contemporaries. He began by a curious practice, which united the romantic fancy for strange countries and strong local colour with his personal longing for privacy and the absence of literary éclat. Le Théâtre de Clara Gazul— plays, nominally by a Spanish actress — was produced when he was but one-and-twenty; two years later, with an audacious anagram on the title of his previous work, he published, under the title of La Guzla, some nominal translation of Dalmatian prose and verse, in which he utilised with extraordinary cleverness the existing books on Slav poetry. La Famille de Carvajal was a further supercherie in the same style. In the very height and climax of the Romantic movement Mérimée produced two works, attesting at once his marvellous supremacy of style, his strange critical appreciation of the current forces in literature, his penetrating insight into history, and the satiric background of all his thoughts and studies. These were La Jacquerie, and a Chronique du Règne de Charles IX. These books, with Balzac's Contes Drolatiques (which they long preceded), are the most happy creative criticisms extant of the middle ages and the Renaissance in France. They are not fair or complete: on the contrary, they are definitely and unfairly hostile. But the mastery at once of human nature and of literary form which they display, the faculty of vivid resurrection indicated by them, the range, the insight, the power of expression, are extraordinary. During the rest of his life Mérimée, with some excursions into history (ancient and modern), archæology, and criticism, confined himself for the most part to the production, at long intervals, of short tales or novels of very limited length. They are all masterpieces of literature, and, like most masterpieces of literature, they indicate, in a comparatively incidental and by-the-way fashion, paths which duller men have followed up to the natural result of absurdity and exaggeration. Colomba, Mateo Falcone, La Double Méprise, La Vénus d'Ille, L'Enlèvement de la Redoute, Lokis, have equals, but no superiors either in French prose fiction or in French prose. Grasp of human character, reserved but masterly description of scenery, delicate analysis of motive, ability to represent the supernatural, pathos, grandeur, simple narrative excellence, appear turn by turn in these wonderful pieces, as they appear hardly anywhere else except in the author to whom we shall come next. It is noteworthy, however, that Mérimée is a master of the simple style in literature as Gautier is of the ornate. One cannot be said to be greater than the other, but between them they exhibit French prose in a perfection which, since the seventeenth century, it had not possessed.
Théophile Gautier was born considerably later than most of the writers just mentioned. His birth-year was 1811, and he was a native of Tarbes in Gascony. His education was partly at the grammar school of that town, and partly at the Lycée Charlemagne, where he made friends with Gérard de Nerval, who was destined to have a great influence on his life. After leaving school he was intended for the profession of art. But, like Thackeray, to whom he had many points of resemblance, he had much less artistic faculty than taste. Gérard introduced him to the circle of Victor Hugo, and he speedily became one of the most fervent disciples of the author of Hernani. In a red waistcoat which has become historic, and in a mass of long hair which he continued to wear through life, he was the foremost of the Hugonic claque at the representation of that famous play. Young as he was, he soon justified himself as something more than a hanger-on of great men of letters. In 1830 itself he produced a volume of verse, and this was followed by Albertus, an audacious poem in the extremest Romantic style, and by a work which did him both harm and good, Mademoiselle de Maupin. In this the most remarkable qualities of style and artistic conception were accompanied by a wilful disregard of the proprieties. Before long his unusual command of style, which was partly natural, partly founded on a wide and accurate study of the French writers of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, recommended him to newspaper work, at which he toiled manfully for the remainder of his life. There was hardly a department of belles lettres which he did not attempt. He travelled in Algeria, in Russia, in Turkey, in Spain, in Italy, in England, and wrote accounts of his travels, which are among the most brilliant ever printed. He was an assiduous critic of art, of the drama and of literature, and the only charge which has ever been brought against his work in this kind is that it is usually too lenient — that his fine appreciation of even the smallest beauties has made him overlook gross defects. His work in prose fiction was incessant, in poetry more intermittent, and all the more perfect. When the Empire established itself, Gautier, who had no political sympathies, but was, in an undecided sort of way, a conservative from the æsthetic point of view, accepted it. But he gave it no active support, beyond continuing to contribute to the Moniteur, and received from it no patronage of any kind. Nor did he sacrifice the least iota of principle, insisting, in the very face of Les Châtiments, on having his praise of Victor Hugo inserted in the official journal on pain of his instant resignation. He led a pleasant but laborious life in one of the suburbs of Paris, with a household of sisters, daughters, and cats, to all of whom he was deeply attached. Here he lived through the Prussian siege. On the restoration of order he manfully grappled with his journalist work again, all hopes of lucrative appointments having gone with the Empire. But his health had been broken for some time, and he died in 1872. The works by which Gautier will be remembered are, in miscellaneous prose, a remarkable series of studies on curious figures, chiefly of the seventeenth century, called Les Grotesques, and a companion series on the partakers in the movement of 1830, besides his descriptive books. In novel writing there must be mentioned an unsurpassed collection of short tales (the best of which is La Morte Amoureuse); Le Roman de la Momie, a clever tour de force reviving ancient Egyptian life; and, lastly, Le Capitaine Fracasse, a novel in the manner of Dumas, but fashioned in his own inimitable style. In verse, he wrote, besides work already mentioned, the Comédie de la Mort, some miscellaneous poems of later date, and, finally, the Émaux et Camées. In prose he is, as has been said, the greatest recent master of the ornate style of French, as Mérimée is the greatest master of the simple style. His mastery over mere language is accompanied by a very fine sense of the total form of his tales, so that the already-mentioned Morte Amoureuse is one of the unsurpassable things of literature. In general writing he has a singular faculty of embalming the most trivial details in the amber of his style, so that his articles can be read again and again for the mere beauty of them. As a poet he is specially noteworthy for the same command of form joined to the same exquisite perfection of language. In Émaux et Camées especially it is almost impossible to find a flaw; language, metre, arrangement, are all complete and perfect, and this formal completeness is further informed by abundant poetic suggestion. The chief fault, if it be a fault, which can be found with Gautier is, that he set himself too deliberately against the tendencies of his age, and excluded too rigidly everything but purely æsthetic subjects of interest from his contemplation, and from the range of his literary energy.
The most happily-gifted, save one, of the great men of 1830, the weakest beyond comparison in will, in temperament, in faculty of improving his natural gifts, has yet to be mentioned. Alfred de Musset was born at Paris in 1810. His father held a government place of some value; his elder brother, M. Paul de Musset, was himself a man of letters, and at the same time deeply attached to his younger brother; and the family, though after the death of the father their means were not great, constantly supplied Alfred with a home. He was, fortunately or unfortunately, thrown, when quite a boy, into the society of Victor Hugo, the cénacle or inner clique of the Romantic movement. When only nineteen Musset published a volume of poetry, which showed in him a poetic talent inferior only to Hugo's own, and, indeed, not so much inferior as different. These Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie were quickly followed up by a volume entitled Un Spectacle dans un Fauteuil, and Musset became famous. Unfortunately for him, he became intimate with George Sand, and the result was a journey to Italy, from which he returned equally broken in health and in heart. His temperament was of almost ultra-poetic excitability, and he had a positively morbid incapacity for undertaking any useful employment, whether it was in itself congenial or no. Thus he refused a well-paid and agreeable position in the French embassy at Madrid; and though he had written admirable prose tales for his own pleasure, he was either unwilling or unable to write them under a regular commission. As he grew older he unfortunately became addicted to the constant and excessive use of stimulants. He was elected to the Academy in 1852, but produced little of value thereafter, and died in 1857. Alfred de Musset's work, notwithstanding his comparatively short life and his want of regular energy, is not inconsiderable in amount, and in quality is of the highest merit and interest. His poems, its most important item, are deficient in strictly formal merit. He is a very careless versifier and rhymer, and his choice of language is far from exquisite. He has, however, a wonderful note of genuine passion, somewhat of the Byronic kind, but quite independent in species, and entirely free from the falsetto which spoils so much of Byron's work. Besides this his lyrics are, in what may be called 'song-quality,' scarcely to be surpassed. Les Nuits, a series of meditative poems in the form of dialogues between the poet and his muse on nights in the month of May, August, October, and December; Rolla, an extravagant but powerful tale of the maladie du siècle; the addresses to Lamartine and to Malibran, and a few more poems, yield to no work of our time in genuine, original, and passionate music. Next to his poems in subject, though not in merit, may be ranked the prose Confession d'un Enfant du Siècle. His prose tales, Emmeline, Frédéric et Bernerette, etc., are of great merit, but inferior relatively to his poems, and to his remarkable dramas. These latter are among the most original work of the century. It was some time before they commended themselves to audiences in France, but they have long won their true position. They are of very various kinds. Some, and perhaps the happiest, are of the class called, in French, proverbes, dramatic illustrations, that is to say, of some common saying, Il ne faut jurer de rien: Il faut qu'une porte soit ouverte ou fermée, etc. The grace and delicacy of these, the ingenuity with which the story is adapted to the moral, the abundant wit (for wit is one of Musset's most prominent characteristics) which illustrates and pervades them, make them unique in literature. Others, such as Les Caprices de Marianne, Le Chandelier, are regular comedies, admitting, as against the classical tradition, that a comedy may end ill; and others, as Lorenzaccio, nearly attain to the dignity of the historic play. The dramatic instinct in Musset was very strong, and may, perhaps, be said to have exceeded in volume, originality, and variety, if not in intensity, the purely poetical. Altogether, Musset is the most remarkable instance in French literature, and one of the most remarkable in the literature of Europe, of merely natural genius, hardly at all developed by study, and not assisted in the least by critical power and a strong will. What, perhaps, distinguished him most is the singular conjunction of the most fervid passion and the most touching lyrical 'cry' with the finest wit, and with unusual dramatic ability.
These eight sum up whatever is greatest and most influential in the generation of 1830. Victor Hugo gave direction and leading to the movement, identified it with his own masterly and commanding genius, furnished it, at brief intervals, with consummate examples. Sainte-Beuve supplied it with the necessary basis of an immense comparative erudition, by which he was enabled to disengage and to exhibit to those who run the true principles of literary criticism, and to point the younger generation to the sources of a richer vocabulary, a more flexible and highly-coloured style, a more cosmopolitan appreciation. Alexandre Dumas, with less strictly literary virtue than any other of the group, occupied the important vantage grounds of the theatre and the lending library in the Romantic interest. Balzac, equalling the others in the range of his field, added the special example of a minute psychological analysis, and of the most untiring labour. George Sand taught the secret of utilising to the utmost the passing currents of personal and popular sentiment and thought. Mérimée, the master least followed, supplied, in the first place, the necessary warning against a too enthusiastic following of school models; and, in the second, himself held up a model of prose style of severity and exactness equal to the finest examples of the classical school, yet possessing to the full the romantic merits of versatile adaptability, of glowing colour, of direct and fearless phrase. Gautier exhibited, on the one hand, a model of absolute perfection in formal poetry, the workmanship of a gem or a Greek vase; on the other, the model of a prose style so flexible as to serve the most ordinary purposes, so richly equipped as to be equal to any emergency, and yet, in its most elaborate condition, worthy to rank with his own verse. Lastly, again as an outsider (a position which he shares in the group with Mérimée, though in very different fashion), Musset brought the most natural and unaffected tears and laughter by turns, to correct the too scholastic and literary character of the movement, and to show how the most perfectly artistic effect could be produced with the least apparatus of formal study or preparation.
Under the influence partly of these men, and directly exercised by them, partly of the general movement of which they were the leaders and exponents, the literature of France has developed itself for the rest of the century. It remains to give a brief sketch of its principal ornaments during that time. Many names, whose work is intrinsically of all but the highest interest and merit, will have to be rapidly dispatched, but their chief achievements and their significance in the general march can at least be indicated.
At the head of the poets of this minor band has to be mentioned Millevoye, who might, perhaps with equal or greater appropriateness, have found a place in the preceding book. He is chiefly remarkable as the author of one charming piece of sentimental verse, La Chute des Feuilles; and as the occasion of an immortal criticism of Sainte-Beuve's, 'Il se trouve dans les trois quarts des hommes un poète qui meurt jeune tandis que l'homme survit.' The peculiarity of Millevoye and his happiness was that he did not survive the death of the poet in him, but died at the age of thirty-four. Except the piece just mentioned, he wrote little of value, and his total work is not large. But he may be described as a simpler, a somewhat less harmonious, but a less tautologous Lamartine, to whom the gods were kind in allowing him to die young. A curious contrast to Millevoye is furnished by his contemporary, Ulric Guttinguer. Guttinguer was born in 1785, and, like Nodier, he joined himself frankly to the Romantic movement, and was looked up to as a senior by its more active promoters. Like Millevoye, he has to rest his fame almost entirely on one piece, the verses beginning, 'Ils ont dit: l'amour passe et sa flamme est rapide;' but, unlike him, he lived to a great age, and was a tolerably fertile producer. By the side of these two poets ranks Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, who shares, with Louise Labé and Marie de France, the first rank among the poetesses of her country. Madame Desbordes-Valmore was born in 1787, and died in 1859. Her first volume of poems was published in 1819, and, as in all the verse of this time, the note of sentiment dominates. She continued to publish volumes at intervals until 1843, and another was added after her death. Great sweetness and pathos, with a total absence of affectation, distinguish her work. Perhaps her best piece is the charming song, in a kind of irregular rondeau form, S'il avait su. Jean Polonius, whose real name was Labenski, was a Russian, who contributed frequently to the Annales Romantiques, and subsequently published two volumes of French poetry. Emile and Antoni Deschamps were the translators of the Romantic movement. Antoni accomplished a complete translation of Dante, Emile translated from English, German, and Italian poets indifferently. They also published original poems together, and separately. Madame Tastu was also a translator, or rather a paraphraser, and an author of original poems of a sentimental kind. Lastly, Jean Reboul, a native of Nîmes, and born in a humble situation, deserves a place among these.
Three poets deserving of all but the first rank, and belonging to the generation of 1830 itself, require each a somewhat longer notice.
Alfred de Vigny was born at Loches, on the 27th of March, 1799. He was a man of rank, and his marriage in 1826 with an Englishwoman of wealth gave him independence. He left the army, in which he had served for some years, in 1828, and spent the rest of his life, until his death in 1864, in literary ease. He had been for some time a member of the Academy. His poetical career was peculiar. Between 1821 and 1829 he produced a small number of poems of the most exquisite finish, which at once attained the popularity they deserved, and were repeatedly reprinted. But for thirty-five years he published hardly anything else in verse, his Poèmes Philosophiques not appearing (at least as a volume) until after his death. Yet he was by no means idle. He had written and published in 1826 the prose romance of Cinq Mars, and he followed this up, though at considerable intervals, with others, as well as with dramas, of which Chatterton is the best and best known. He also translated Othello and The Merchant of Venice. Alfred de Vigny may perhaps be best described as a link between André Chénier and the Romantic poets. He is not much of a lyrist, his best and most famous poems (Moïse, Eloa, Dolorida) being in Alexandrines, and the general form of his verse inclines to that of the eighteenth-century elegy, while it has much of the classical (not pseudo-classical) proportion and grace of Chénier. But his language, and in part his versification, are romantic, though quieter in style than those of most of his companions, whom it must be remembered he for the most part forestalled. In Moïse much of what has been called Victor Hugo's 'science of names' is anticipated, as well as his large manner of landscape and declamation. Eloa suggests rather Lamartine, but a Lamartine with his weakness replaced by strength, while Dolorida has a strong flavour of Musset. The remarkable thing is that in each case the peculiarities of the poet to whom Vigny has been compared were not fully developed until after he wrote, and that therefore he has the merit of originality. It is probable, however, that, exquisite as his poetical power was, it lacked range, and that he, having the rare faculty of discerning this, designedly limited his production. The best of the posthumous poems already mentioned are fully worthy of his earlier ones, but they display no new faculty.
If Alfred de Vigny is a poet of few books, Auguste Barbier is a poet of one. Born in 1805, Barbier never formed part of the Romantic circle, properly so called, but he shared to the full its inspiring influence. He began by an historical novel of no great merit, but the revolution of 1830 served as the occasion of his Iambes, a series of extraordinarily brilliant and vigorous satires, both political and social. The most famous of all these is La Curée, a description of the ignoble scramble for place and profit under the new Orleanist government. No satirical work in modern days has had greater success, and few have deserved it more; the weight and polish of the verse being altogether admirable. Satire is, however, a vein which it is very difficult to work for any length of time with any novelty, as may be seen sufficiently from the fact that the works of all the best satirists, ancient and modern, are contained in a very small compass. Barbier endeavoured to secure the necessary variety of subjects by going to Italy in Il Pianto, and to England in Lazare, but without success, though both contain many examples of the nervous and splendid verse in which he excels. During the last forty years of his life he wrote much, and he was elected to the Academy in 1869, but Les Iambes will remain his title to fame.
A name far less generally known, but deserving of being known very well indeed, is that of Gérard de Nerval, or, as his right appellation was, Gérard Labrunie. He was born in 1805, and was one of the most distinguished pupils of the celebrated Lycée Charlemagne, where he made the acquaintance of Théophile Gautier. Gérard (as he is most generally called) was a man of delicate and far-ranging genius, afflicted with the peculiar malady which weighs on some such men, and which may perhaps be described as an infirmity of will. He was not idle, and there was no reason why he should not be prosperous. At an early age he translated Faust, to the admiration of Goethe. His Travels in the East were widely read, and every newspaper in Paris was glad of his co-operation; yet he was frequently in distress, and died in a horrible and mysterious manner, either by his own hand or murdered by night prowlers. He has been more than once compared to Poe, whom, however, he excelled both in amiability of temperament and in literary knowledge. But the two have been rightly selected by an excellent judge as being, in company with a living English poet, the chief masters of the poetry which 'lies on the further side between verse and music.' Most of Gérard's work is in prose, taking the form of fantastic but exquisite short tales entitled Les Filles de Feu, La Bohême Galante, etc. His verse, at least the characteristic part of it, is not bulky; it consists partly of folksongs slightly modernised, partly of sonnets, partly of miscellaneous poems. But, if the expression 'prose poetry' be ever allowable, which has been doubted, it is seldom more applicable than to much of Gérard de Nerval's work, both in his description of his travels and in avowed fiction.
Some minor names remain to be mentioned. Méry, one of the most fertile authors of the century, was a writer of verse as well as of prose, and displayed much the same talent of brilliant improvisation in each capacity. Auguste Brizeux, a Breton by birth, made himself remarkable by idyllic poetry (Marie, La Fleur d'Or) chiefly dealing with the scenery and figures of his native province. Amédée Pommier is a fertile and not inelegant verse writer, of no very marked characteristics. Charles Dovalle, who was shot in one of the miserable duels between journalists so common in France, at the age of twenty-two, would probably have done remarkable work had he lived. Hégésippe Moreau, to whom a life but very little longer was vouchsafed, devoted himself partly to bacchanalian and satirical work, for which he had not the slightest genius, but produced also some poems of country life, which rank among the sweetest and most natural of the century. Much of his work is little more than a corrupt following of Béranger. In the same way the imitation of Lamartine was not fortunate for Victor de Laprade (Psyché, Les Symphonies, Les Voix de Silence). This imitation is not so much in subject (for M. de Laprade was a philosopher rather than a sentimentalist) as in manner and versification. His verse is also much more strongly impregnated than Lamartine's with classical culture. With due allowance for difference of dates and countries, there is a considerable resemblance between Laprade and Southey. Both had the same accomplishment of style, the same unquestioning submission to the dogmas of Christianity, the same width of literary information. It is unfortunate for France that Laprade was somewhat deficient in humour, a rare growth on her soil at all times.
All these names are more or less widely known, but there is a class of 'oubliés et dédaignés,' as one of their most faithful biographers has called them, who belong to the movement of 1830, and whose numbers are probably, while their merit is certainly, greater than is the case at any other literary epoch. Few of them can be mentioned here, but those few are worthy of mention, and it may perhaps be said that the native vigour of most of them, though warped and distorted for the most part by oddities of temperament or the unkindness of fortune, equals, if it does not surpass, that of many of their more fortunate brethren. The first of these is Pétrus Borel, one of the strangest figures in the history of literature. Very little is known of his life, which was spent partly at Paris and partly in Algeria. He was perhaps the most extravagant of all the Romantics, surnaming himself 'Le Lycanthrope,' and identifying himself with the eccentricities of the Bousingots, a clique of political literary men who for a short time made themselves conspicuous after 1830. Borel wrote partly in verse and partly in prose. His most considerable exploit in the former was a strange preface in verse to his novel of Madame Putiphar; his best work in prose, a series of wild but powerful stories entitled Champavert. His talent altogether lacked measure and criticism, but it is undeniable. Auguste Fontaney was born in 1803 and died in 1837, having, like many of the literary men of his day, served for a short time in diplomacy. He was a frequent contributor to the early Romantic periodicals, and somewhat later to the Revue des Deux-Mondes. His work is very unequal, but at its best it is saturated with the true spirit of poetry. Félix Arvers, like our own Blanco White, has obtained his place in literary history by a single sonnet, one of the most beautiful ever written. Auguste de Chatillon was both poet and painter; his chief title to remembrance in the former capacity being a volume of cheerful verse entitled A l'Auberge de la Grand' Pinte. Napoléon Peyrat, who, after the fashion of those times (in which Auguste Maquet, a fertile novelist, and a journalist, and a collaborateur of Alexandre Dumas, called himself Augustus Mackeat, and Théophile Dondey anagrammatised his surname into O'Neddy), dubbed himself Napol le Pyrénéen, survives, and justly, in virtue of a single short poem on Roland, possessed of extraordinary verve and spirit. Last of all has to be mentioned Louis Bertrand, a poet possessed of the rarest faculty, but unfortunately doomed to misfortune and premature death. Born at Ceva in Piedmont, in 1807, and brought up at Dijon, he came to Paris, found there but scanty encouragement, and died in a hospital in 1841. His only work of any importance, Gaspard de la Nuit, a series of prose ballads arranged in verses something like those of the English translation of the Bible, and testifying to the most delicate sense of rhythm, and the most exquisite power of poetical suggestion, did not appear until after his death. He and Borel perhaps only of the names contained in this paragraph represent individual and solid talent: the others are chiefly noteworthy as instances of the extraordinary stimulating force of the time on minds which in other days would probably have remained indocile to poetry, or at least unproductive of it.
Three distinct stages are perceptible in French poetry since the date of the Romantic movement, and we have now exhausted the remarkable names belonging to the first. Another opens with those poets who, being born in or about 1820, came to years of discretion in time to see the first force of the movement spent, and found the necessity of striking out something of a new way for themselves. Of this group three names stand pre-eminently forward, those of Baudelaire, Banville, and Leconte de Lisle, while some others may be mentioned beside them.
Théodore de Banville was born in 1820, of a good family, his father being an officer in the navy. He began to write very early with the Cariatides, and continued for fifty years to be active in prose and poetry. M. de Banville displayed at once a remarkable mastery of rhyme and rhythm, and it is in the exhibition of this that he chiefly excelled. Under his auspices not merely the graceful metrical systems of the Pléiade, but the older forms of the mediaeval poets, Ballades, Rondeaux, Triolets, etc., were once more brought into fashion. But M. de Banville was by no means only a clever versifier. His serious poetry (Cariatides, Stalactites, Odelettes, Les Exilé's, Trente-six Ballades) is full of poetical language and sentiment, his lighter verse (Occidentales, Odes Funambulesques) is charming, his prose is excellent, and he was no mean hand at drama (Gringoire).
As M. de Banville sought for poetical novelty in an elaborate manipulation of the formal part of poetry, so M. Leconte de Lisle has sought it in a wide range of subject. He is a great translator of Greek verse. But in his original poems (Poésies Antiques, Poésies Barbares, Poëmes et Poésies) he has gone not merely to the classics but to the East and to mediaeval times for his inspiration. A tendency to load his verse with exotic names in unusual forms (he was one of the first Frenchmen to adopt the fashion of spelling Greek names with a strict transliteration) has brought, not perhaps altogether undeservedly, the charge of affectation on M. Leconte de Lisle. But he is a poet of no small power, not merely in outlandish subjects such as Le Massacre de Mona, Le Sommeil du Condor, Le Runoia, etc., but in much simpler work, such as the beautiful Requies.
Charles Baudelaire had a more original talent than either of these. Although a very careful writer, he is not studious of bizarre rhythm, nor are his subjects for the most part outlandish. He chose, however, to illustrate a peculiar form of poetical melancholy by dwelling on subjects many of which would have been better left alone, while others were treated in a manner unsuited to the time. His Fleurs du Mal, therefore, as his chief work is entitled, had to undergo expurgation before it was allowed to be published, and has never been popular with the general public. But its best pieces, as well as the best of some singular Petits Poëmes en Prose, partly inspired by Louis Bertrand, have extraordinary merit in the way of delicate poetical suggestion and a lofty spiritualism. Baudelaire was also a very accomplished critic, his point of view being less exclusively French than that of almost any other French writer of the same class. He translated Poe and De Quincey.
The minor poets of this second Romantic school may again be grouped together. Charles Coran, a miscellaneous poet of talent, anticipated the school of which we shall shortly have to give some notice, that of the Parnassiens. Joséphin Soulary is remarkable for the extreme beauty of his sonnets, in devoting himself to which form he anticipated a general tendency of contemporary poets both English and French. Auguste Vacquerie, better known as a critic, a dramatist, and a journalist, began as a lyrical and miscellaneous poet, and achieved some noticeable work. Gustave Le Vavasseur attempted, not without success, to revive the vigorous tradition of Norman poetry. Pierre Dupont, better known than any of these, seemed at one time likely to be a poet of the first rank, but unfortunately wasted his talent in Bohemian dawdling and disorder. His songs were the delight of the young generation of 1848, and two of them, Le Chant des Ouvriers and Les Bœufs, are still most remarkable compositions. Louis Bouilhet (whose best poem is Melænis) has some resemblance to M. Leconte de Lisle, though he went still further afield for his subjects. He had no small power, but the defect of the old descriptive poetry revived in him, and in some of his contemporaries and followers, the defect necessarily attendant on forgetfulness of the fact that description by itself, however beautiful it may be, is not poetry. With these may be mentioned Gustave Nadaud, a song-writer pure and simple, free from almost any influence of school literature, a true follower of Béranger, though with much less range, wit, and depth.
Except Dupont and Nadaud, all the poets just mentioned may be said to belong more or less to the school of Gautier — the school, that is to say, which attached preponderant importance to form in poetry. Towards the middle of the Second Empire a crowd of younger writers, who had adopted this principle still more unhesitatingly, grew up, and formed what has been known for some years, partly seriously, partly in derision, as the Parnassien school. The origin of this term was the issue, in 1866 (as a sort of poetical manifesto preluding the great Exhibition of the next year), of a collection of poetry from the pens of a large number of poets, from Théophile Gautier and Emile Deschamps downwards. This was entitled Le Parnasse Contemporain, after an old French fashion. Another collection of the same kind was begun in 1869, interrupted by the war, and continued afterwards; and a third in 1876: while the Parnassien movement was also represented in several newspapers, the chief of which was La Renaissance. Another nickname of the poets of this sect (which, however, included almost all French writers of verse, even Victor de Laprade being counted in) was les impassibles, for their presumed devotion to art for art's sake, and their scorn of didactic, domestic, and sentimental poetry. Their numbers were very great, and none, save a few, can be mentioned here. Perhaps the chief of the original Parnassiens were MM. Sully Prudhomme and François Coppée, the former of whom experienced some reaction and affected what is called 'thoughtful verse,' while M. Coppée, having taken to domestic subjects, is as popular as any contemporary French poet, and in at least one instance (Le Luthier de Crémone) has achieved success at the theatre. A poet of great gifts, the latest of the vagabond school of Villon, was Albert Glatigny, who lived as a strolling actor, and died young. Many of his poems, but especially the Ballade des Enfans sans Souci, have singular force and pathos. It would hardly be fair to mention any other names, because a singular evenness of talent and general characteristics manifests itself among these poets. All sacrifice something to the perfection of form, or, to speak more correctly and critically, most are saved only by the perfection of their form, which is as a rule far superior to that of English minor poets. Of late years the Parnasse as a single group has broken up somewhat, and during the last decade some isolated poets of promise have appeared. M. Maurice Bouchor recurred to the bacchanalian model for inspiration; M. Paul Deroulède is tyrtaean and bellicose. Both of these may be said to be representative of reaction against the Parnasse. The new naturalist school, which has produced such singular work in prose fiction, is represented in poetry by M. Richepin and M. Guy de Maupassant. The former, with much unworthy work, produced in La Mer and elsewhere excellent things. The latter, despite an unfortunate licence of subject, showed himself the strongest and most accomplished versifier who has made his appearance in France for the last twenty years. But after his first efforts he appeared to abandon himself almost entirely to prose. M. Paul Verlaine, a poet known from the early days of the Parnasse, has more recently produced work of increased but very unequal merit, exaggerating the faults but showing some of the charm of Baudelaire; and, partly under his, partly under foreign influence, a still younger school has begun to make experiments in prosody which are not uninteresting, but which are too minute for notice here.
The progress of French drama during the last half century is of somewhat less importance to literature, but of even more to social history, than that of poetry. The greatest masters of drama have already been mentioned among the eight typical names of 1830, even Balzac having attempted it, though without much success. The most famous and successful playwrights, however, as distinguished from the producers of literary dramas, have yet to be noticed293. Pixérécourt, a melodramatist and a book-collector, achieved his first success with a play on the well-known story of the Dog of Montargis (itself dating back to the earliest days of the Chansons de Gestes), in 1814, and followed it up with a long succession of similar pieces. Two years later Eugène Scribe, who had been born in 1791, made his début, as far as success goes, with Une Nuit de la Garde Nationale. Scribe was one of the most prolific, one of the most successful, and one of the least literary of French dramatists. For nearly half a century he continued, sometimes alone, and sometimes in collaboration, to pour forth vaudevilles, dramas, and comedies, almost all of which were favourably received. Scribe was generous to his associates, and would sometimes acknowledge the communication of a bare idea by a share in the profits of the play which it suggested. He had also an almost unrivalled knowledge of the technique of the theatre, and not a little wit. But his style is loose and careless, and his dramas do not bear reading. His most important later plays are Valérie, 1822; Le Mariage d'Argent, 1827; Bertrand et Raton, 1833; Le Verre d'Eau, 1840; Une Chaîne, 1841; Bataille de Dames, 1851. One of the less famous partakers in the first Romantic movement, Bouchardy, distinguished himself, in succession to Pixérécourt, as a Romantic melodramatist, his most famous works being Le Sonneur de Saint Paul, and Lazare le Pâtre. In 1843 a kind of reaction was supposed to be about to take place, the signs of which were the performance of the Lucrèce of Ponsard in that year, and of the Ciguë of Emile Augier the year after. Ponsard, however, was only a Romantic whose colour was deadened by his inability to attain more brilliant tones. His succeeding plays, Agnès de Méranie, Charlotte Corday, L'Honneur et l'Argent, showed this sufficiently. M. Emile Augier is a more remarkable and a more independent figure. In so far as he represents a protest against Romanticism at all (which he does only very partially), it is because he shared in the growing tendency towards realism, that is, to a recurrence in the Romantic sense to the tragédie bourgeoise of the preceding century, and because also he gave no countenance to the practice, in which some of the early Romantics indulged, of representing immoral personages as interesting. Almost all M. Augier's dramas, such as L'Aventurière, 1849, which is his masterpiece, Gabrielle, 1849, Diane, 1852, Le Mariage d'Olympe, 1855, Le Fils de Giboyer, 1862, and others of more recent date, are distinctly on the side of the angels. But the author does not make the excellence of his intention a reason for passing off inferior work, and he is justly recognised as one of the leaders of French drama in the latter half of the century. About this same time (1845) was the date of the appearance of a fertile and successful playwright of the less exalted class, M. Dennery (Don César de Bazan, L'Aieule). Auguste Maquet, another of the old guard of Romanticism, distinguished himself by helping to adapt to the stage the novels of Dumas the elder, which he had already helped to write; and one of his colleagues on Dumas' staff, M. Octave Feuillet, who was shortly to make a great reputation for himself as a novelist, appeared on the boards with Échec et Mat. During the whole of this decade (1840-1850) Delphine Gay, the beautiful and accomplished wife of the journalist Emile de Girardin, was a frequent and successful play-writer. Soon afterwards M. Legouvé, son of the academician of the same name, and himself an academician, began to collaborate with Scribe in works of more importance (Adrienne Lecouvreur) than the latter had before attempted; while George Sand and her former friend, Jules Sandeau, were also drawn into the inevitable theatrical vortex. In collaboration with Augier, Sandeau produced, from one of his own novels, one of the best plays of the century, Le Gendre de M. Poirier, 1855. Eugène Labiche, who had been born in 1815, distinguished himself, in 1851, by Le Chapeau de Paille d'Italie, and in it laid the foundation of a long career of success in the lighter kind of play which, at last, conducted him to the Academy. His best-known play is Le Voyage de M. Perrichon. The year 1852 was memorable for the French stage, for it saw the production of La Dame aux Camélias, the first important play of Alexandre Dumas fils. Without much of his father's talent for novel-writing, M. Dumas has been both a more successful, and perhaps a better, dramatist. Most of his plays have been directed to some burning question of the social or ethical kind, and it has been his practice to re-issue them after a time, with argumentative prefaces, in a very singular style. Diane de Lys, Le Demi-Monde, La Question d'Argent, Le Fils Naturel, Le Supplice d'une Femme (nominally composed with Emile de Girardin), Les Idées de Madame Aubray, Une Visite de Noces, and L'Étrangère, are his chief works. In 1854 appeared a now almost forgotten work by Victorien Sardou, who was destined to be the favourite dramatist of the Second Empire, and to share with MM. Augier and Dumas fils the chief rank among the dramatists of the last half of the century. Seven years later Nos Intimes gave him a great success, and, in 1865, La Famille Benoiton a greater, which he followed up with Nos Bons Villageois, 1866. Since that time he has written many plays, of which the finest by far, and one of the few comedies of this age likely to become classical, is the admirable Rabagas— a satire of the keenest on the interested politicians, who, in France as elsewhere, take up demagogy as a trade. M. Sardou has attempted serious work in various plays, the best of which is, perhaps, Patrie, but it is not his forte. Satirical observation of manners, and especially of the current political and social follies of the day, is what he can do best, and in this peculiar line he has few equals. But he is admitted to be one of the most unequal of writers. A peculiar offspring of the Second Empire are the brilliant burlesques of Offenbach, which owed at least part of their brilliancy to the librettos composed for them by MM. Meilhac and Halévy. The first-named of these had produced successful dramas as far back as 1859. The collaborateurs did not confine themselves to furnishing words for M. Offenbach's music, but attempted the prose drama frequently and with success, Froufrou being their most important work in this way. M. Gondinet and M. Pailleron also deserve notice as successful manufacturers of light plays, the latter in especial having an excellent wit (Le monde où l'on s'ennuie, Le Chevalier Trumeau). This may also be asserted of M. Halévy, who has latterly, in Les Petites Cardinal and other non-dramatic sketches, shown himself to even greater advantage than on the stage. Indeed the Cardinal family may be said to be the most striking literary creation of its kind for years.
In a different class and earlier, Joseph Autran, a poet of the school of Lamartine, obtained a great reputation by his tragedy of La Fille d'Eschyle, which procured him a seat in the Academy, and gave him the opportunity of writing not a few volumes of polished, but not very vigorous, poetry. M. Théodore de Banville, who has tried most paths in literature, produced, in 1866, a short play, with the old mystery-writer Gringoire for hero and title-giver; a play which is admirably written, and which has kept its place on the stage. M. François Coppée's graceful Luthier de Crémone has already been mentioned. Another literary dramatist, to distinguish the class from those who are playwrights first of all, is M. Henri de Bornier, who obtained some success, in 1875, with La Fille de Roland, and, in 1880, with Les Noces d'Attila. Both these are good, though not consummate, specimens of the poetical drama.
Active, however, as was the cultivation of poetry proper and of the drama, it is not likely that the nineteenth century will be principally known in French literary history either as a poetical, or as a dramatic age. Its most creative production is in the field of prose fiction. It is particularly noteworthy that every one of the eight names which have been set at its head is the name of a novelist, and that the energy of most of these authors in novel-writing has been very considerable. Their production may be divided into two broad classes — novels of incident, of which Hugo and Dumas were the chief practitioners, and which derive chiefly from Sir Walter Scott; and novels of character, which, with a not inconsiderable admixture of English influence, may be said to be legitimately descended from the indigenous novel created by Madame de la Fayette, continued by Marivaux and still more by Prévost, and maintained, though in diminished vivacity, by later writers. Of this school George Sand and Balzac are the masters, though much importance must also be assigned to Stendhal. At first the novelists of 1830 decidedly preferred the novel of incident, the literary success of which in the hands of Hugo, and its pecuniary success in the hands of Dumas, were equally likely to excite ambitions of different kinds.
A rival of both of these in popularity during the reign of Louis Philippe, though infinitely inferior to both in literary skill, was Eugène Sue. With him may be classed another voluminous manufacturer of exciting stories, Frédéric Soulié, and somewhat later Paul Féval, with next to them Amédée Achard and Roger de Beauvoir. A better writer than any of these was Jules Janin, whose literary career was long and prosperous, but not uniform. Janin began with a strange story, in the extremest Romantic taste, called L'Ane Mort et la Femme Guillotinée. This at a later period he represented as an intentional caricature, which is not on the whole likely. He followed it up with Barnave, a historical novel full of exciting incident. Both these books, however, with grave defects, have power perhaps superior to that shown in anything that Janin did later. Being an exceedingly facile writer, and lacking that peculiar quality of style which sometimes precludes popularity with the many as much as it secures it with the few, he became absorbed in journalism, in the furnishing of miscellaneous articles, prefaces, and so forth, to the booksellers, and finally in theatrical criticism, where he reigned supreme for many years. None of his later novels need remark. With Janin may be mentioned M. Alphonse Karr, who however has been more of a journalist than of a novelist. His abundant and lively work has not perhaps the qualities of permanence. But his Voyage autour de mon Jardin, his Sous les Tilleuls, and the satirical publication known as Les Guépes, deserve at least to be named. Here too may be noticed M. Barbey d'Aurévilly whose works critical and fictitious (the chief being probably L'Ensorcelée) display a very remarkable faculty of style, perhaps too deliberately eccentric, but full of distinction and vigour.
Under the Empire, a fresh group of novelists of incident sprang up. MM. Erckmann and Chatrian produced in collaboration a large number of tales, chiefly dealing with the events of the Revolution and the First Empire in the north-eastern provinces of France. Criminal and legal subjects were great favourites with the late Emile Gaboriau, who naturalised in France the detective novel. His chief follower is M. Fortuné du Boisgobey.
The best novelists of the generation of 1830, outside the list of masters, have yet to be noticed. These are Charles de Bernard and Jules Sandeau. Charles de Bernard was at one time Balzac's secretary, but his fashion of work is entirely different from that of his employer. He divides himself for the most part between the representation of the Parisian life of good society and that of country-house manners. His shorter tales are perhaps his best, and many of them, such as L'Ecueil, La Quarantaine, Le Paratonnerre, Le Gendre, etc., are admirable examples of a class in which Frenchmen have always excelled. But his longer works, Gerfaut, Les Ailes d'Icare, Un Homme Sérieux, etc., are not inferior to them in wit, in accurate knowledge and skilful portraiture of character, in good breeding, and in satiric touches which are always good-humoured.
Jules Sandeau was a novelist of no very different class, but with less wit, with much less satiric intention, and with a greater infusion of sentiment, not to say tragedy. His best novels, Catherine, Mademoiselle de Penarvan, Mademoiselle de la Seiglière, Le Docteur Herbeau, are drawn from provincial life, which, from the great size of France and its diversity in scenery and local character, has been a remarkably fertile subject to French novelists. These novels are remarkable for their accurate and dramatic construction (which is such that they have lent themselves in more than one instance to theatrical adaptation with great success) and their pure and healthy morality.
Next in order of birth may be mentioned Octave Feuillet, who began, as has been mentioned, by officiating as assistant to Alexandre Dumas. His first independent efforts in novel-writing, Bellah and Onesta, were of the same kind as his master's; but they were not great successes, and after a short time he struck into an original and much more promising path. His first really characteristic novel was La Petite Comtesse, 1856, and this was followed by others, the best of which are Le Roman d'un Jeune Homme Pauvre, 1858; Sibylle, 1862; M. de Camors, 1867; and Julia de Trécœur, 1872: the two last being perhaps his strongest books, though the Roman d'un Jeune Homme Pauvre is the most popular. M. Feuillet wrote in a pure and easy style, and exhibited in his novels acquaintance with the manners of good society, and a considerable command of pathos. He was more studious of the proprieties than most of his contemporaries, but has indulged in a somewhat unhealthy sentimentalism. Henry Murger had a very original, though a somewhat limited, talent. He is the novelist of what is called the Parisian Bohême, the reckless society of young artists and men of letters, which has always grouped itself in greater numbers at Paris than anywhere else. The novel, or rather the series of sketches, entitled La Vie de Bohême is one which, from the truth to nature, the pathos, and the wit which accompany its caricature and burlesque of manners, will always hold a position in literature. Murger, who experienced many hardships in his youth, was all his life a careless and reckless liver, and died young. His works (all prose fiction, except a small collection of poems not very striking in form but touching and sincere in sentiment) are tolerably numerous, but the best of them are little more than repetitions of the Vie de Bohême. Edmond About, a very lively writer, whose liveliness was not always kept sufficiently in check by good taste, oscillated between fiction and journalism, latterly inclining chiefly to journalism. In his younger days he was better known as a novelist, and some of his works, such as Tolla and Le Roi des Montagnes, were very popular. More characteristic perhaps are his shorter and more familiar stories (L'Homme à l'Oreille Cassée, Le Nez d'un Notaire, etc.). In this same group of novelists of the Second Republic and Empire ranks Ernest Feydeau, a morbid and thoroughly unwholesome author, who, however, did not lack power, and once at least (in Sylvie) produced work of unquestionable merit. His other novels, Fanny, Daniel, La Comtesse de Chalis, are chiefly remarkable as showing the worst side of the society of the Empire. Among writers of short stories Champfleury, a friend and contemporary of Murger (who has more recently betaken himself to artistic criticism of the historical kind), deserves notice for his amusing extravaganzas, and Gustave Droz for the singularly ingenious and witty series of domestic sketches entitled Monsieur, Madame et Bébé, and Entre Nous. The range of subject in these is wide and not always what is understood by the English word domestic. But the fancy shown in their design and the literary skill of their execution are alike remarkable and worthy of the ancient reputation of France in the short prose tale. Nor have they lacked followers.
The greatest of the Second Empire novelists is unquestionably Gustave Flaubert, who was born in 1821. Having a sufficient income he betook himself early to literature, which he cultivated with an amount of care and elaborate self-discipline rare among authors. In 1848 he contributed to the Artiste newspaper, then edited by Gautier, some fragments of a remarkable fantasy-piece on the legend of St. Anthony, which was not published as a whole till nearly a quarter of a century later. In 1859, being then nearly forty years old, he achieved at once a great success and a great scandal by his novel of Madame Bovary, a study of provincial life, as unsparing as any of Balzac's, but more true to actual nature, more finished in construction, and far superior in style. It was the subject of a prosecution, but the author was acquitted. Next, M. Flaubert selected an archaeological subject, and produced, after long study, Salammbo, a novel the scene of which is pitched at Carthage in the days of the mercenary war. This book, like the former, has a certain repulsiveness of subject in parts; but the vigour of the drawing and the extraordinary skill in description are as remarkable as ever. L'Education Sentimentale, which followed, was Flaubert's least popular work, being too long, and having an insufficiently defined plot and interest. Then appeared the completed Tentation de St. Antoine, a book deserving to rank at the head of its class — that of the fantastic romance. Afterwards came Trois Contes, exhibiting in miniature all the author's characteristics; and lastly, after his sudden death, in 1881, the unfinished Bouvard et Pécuchet. The faults of Flaubert are, in the first place, indiscriminate meddling with subjects best left alone, which he shares with most French novelists; in the second, a certain complaisance in dealing with things simply horrible, which is more peculiar to him; in the third, an occasional prodigality of erudite detail which clogs and impedes the action. His merits are an almost incomparable power of description, a mastery of those types of character which he attempts, an imagination of extraordinary power, and a singular satirical criticism of life, which does not exclude the possession of a vein of romantic and almost poetical sentiment and suggestion. He is a writer repulsive to many, unintelligible to more, and never likely to be generally popular, but sure to retain his place in the admiration of those who judge literature as literature.
The name of Flaubert has been much invoked, and his reputation has been not a little compromised, by a small but noisy school of novelists and critics who call themselves naturalists, and affect to preach and practice a new crusade for the purpose of revolutionising poetry, fiction, and the drama. These persons, whose leader is M. Emile Zola, a busy and popular novelist, an unsuccessful dramatist, and a critic of great industry, include the brothers Goncourt (one of whom is now dead) and a number of younger writers who deserve no notice, except M. Guy de Maupassant, whose prose, if too often ill employed, is as vigorous as his verse, and who in his excellent Pierre et Jean broke his naturalist chains. The naturalists affect to derive from Stendhal, through Balzac and Flaubert. That is to say, they adopt the analytic method, and devote themselves chiefly to the study of character. But they go farther than these great artists by objecting to the processes of art. According to them, literature is to be strictly 'scientific,' to confine itself to anatomy, and, it would appear, to morbid anatomy only. The Romantic treatment, that is to say, the presentation of natural facts in an artistic setting, is rigidly proscribed. Everything must be set down on the principle of a newspaper report, or, to go to another art for an illustration, as if by a photographic camera, not by an artist's pencil. Now it will be obvious to any impartial critic that the pursuance of this method is in itself fatal to the interest of a book. The reader, unless of the very lowest order of intellect, does not want in a novel a mere reproduction of the facts of life, still less a mere scientific reference of them to causes. Accordingly, the naturalist method inevitably produces an extreme dulness. In their search for a remedy, its practitioners have observed that there are certain divisions of human action, usually classed as vice and crime, in which, for their own sake, and independently of pleasure in artistic appreciation of the manner in which they are presented, a morbid interest is felt by a large number of persons. They therefore, with businesslike shrewdness, invariably, or almost invariably, select their subjects from these privileged classes. The ambition of the naturalist, briefly described without epigram or flippancy, but as he would himself say scientifically, is to mention the unmentionable with as much fulness of detail as possible. In this business M. Emile Zola has not hitherto been surpassed, though many of his pupils have run him hard. Unfortunately, for those who are proof against the attraction of disgusting subjects merely because they are disgusting, M. Zola is one of the dullest of writers. His style is also very bad, possessing for its sole merits a certain vulgar vigour which is occasionally not ineffective, and a capacity for vivid description. He is deeply learned in argot, or slang, the use of which is one of the naturalist instruments, and his works are therefore not useless as repertories of expressions to be avoided. M. Zola's criticisms are more interesting than his novels, consisting chiefly of vigorous denunciations of all the good writers of his own day.
M. Victor Cherbuliez, besides political and miscellaneous work of inferior relative power, has produced a series of novels (Le Comte Kostia, Le Roman d'une Honnête Femme, Méta Holdenis, Samuel Brohl et Cie) which are remarkable for style, construction, and wit. M. Alphonse Daudet, beginning early, produced in his first stage a charming collection of Lettres de mon Moulin, and a pathetic autobiographic novel Le Petit Chose. In his second, attempting the manner of Dickens, he obtained with Jack, 1873, and Froment Jeune et Risler Aîné, 1874, great popularity. His later works, Le Nabab, Les Rois en Exil, Numa Roumestan, L'Évangéliste, L'Immortel, shew, in their condescending to the satisfaction of vulgar curiosity as to living or lately dead persons, a great falling off. The capacity of M. Daudet (whose Tartarin de Tarascon with its sequel is wholly admirable extravaganza) cannot be doubted: his taste is deplorable. Of still more recent novelists two only can be mentioned: M. Georges Ohnet (Serge Panine, Le Maître de Forges, La Grande Marnière) whose popularity with readers is only equalled by the unanimous disfavour with which all competent critics regard him, and M. Viaud ('Pierre Loti'), a naval officer, whose work (Aziyadé, Le Mariage de Loti, Mon Frère Yves, Madame Chrysanthème), midway between the novel, the autobiography, and the travel-book displays some elegance and much 'preciousness' of style and fancy.
After the Revolution the fortune of journalism was assured, and though under the subsequent forms of government it was subjected to a rigid censorship, it was too firmly established to be overthrown. Almost all men of letters flocked to it. The leading article or unsigned political and miscellaneous essay has never been so strong a feature of French journalism as it has been of English. On the other hand, the feuilleton, or daily, weekly, and monthly instalment of fiction or criticism, has been one of its chief characteristics. Many, if not most, of the most celebrated novels of the last half century have originally appeared in this form, publication in independent parts, which was long fashionable in England, never having found favour in France. In the same way, though weekly reviews devoted wholly or mainly to literary criticism have, for some reason, never been successful with the French as they have with us, daily journalism has given a greater space to criticism, and especially to theatrical criticism. All French criticism subsequent to 1830 may be said to derive, whether it deals with literature, with the theatre, or with art, from three masters, Sainte-Beuve, Gautier, and Janin. The method of the first has been sufficiently explained. Gautier's was rather the expression of a fine critical appreciation in the most exquisite style, and Janin's, the far easier, and, after a short time, unimportant plan of gossiping amiably and amusingly about, it might be the subject, it might be something quite different. The only successor to Gautier was Paul de Saint-Victor, who, however, was inferior to his master in appreciative power, and exaggerated his habit of relying on style to carry him through. Paul de Saint-Victor was not a frequent writer, and his collected works as yet do not fill many volumes. Hommes et Dieux, which is perhaps the principal of them, exhibits a deficiency of catholicity in literary appreciation. His latest book, Les Deux Masques, an unfinished study of the history of the stage, contains much brilliant writing, but is wanting in solid qualities. As a theatrical critic, Janin was succeeded by a curiously different person, M. Francisque Sarcey, who has chiefly been noteworthy for severity and a kind of pedagogic common sense, as unlike as possible to the good-humoured gossip of Janin. M. de Pontmartin was an acrid but vigorous critic on the royalist and orthodox side. M. Hippolyte Taine, chief of Sainte-Beuve's followers, has somewhat caricatured his master's method. Sainte-Beuve's principle was, it must be remembered, to examine carefully the circumstances of his author's time, in order to ascertain their bearing upon him. In M. Taine's hands this wise practice changed itself into a theory — the theory that every man is a kind of product of the circumstances, and that, by examining the latter, the man is necessarily explained. M. Taine chose for his principal exercising ground the history of English literature. He produced under that title a series of studies often acute, always brilliant in style, but constantly showing the faults of the critical method just indicated. Of other literary critics, the two chief besides M. Taine are M. Edmond Scherer and M. Emile Montégut. The latter is a critic of a very fine and delicate appreciation. A short essay of his on Boccaccio may be specified as one of the best of French contemporary critical exercises. M. Scherer has a good deal of common sense, a considerable acquaintance with literature, and a clear, straightforward, and vigorous style. His judgment, however, is much limited by prejudice, and some of his studies, such as those on Baudelaire and Diderot, show that he is an untrustworthy judge of what is not commonplace.
A separate school of criticism, of a more academic character than that represented by most of the names just mentioned, has existed in France during the greater part of the century, and during a great part of it has found its means of utterance partly in the University chairs and in treatises crowned by the Academy, partly in a well-known fortnightly periodical, the Revue des Deux-Mondes. The master of this school of criticism may be said to have been Villemain, 1790-1870, who represents the classical tradition corrected by a very considerable study of other European languages besides French. Not the least part of the narrowness of the older classical school was due to its ignorance of these languages, and its consequent incapacity to make the necessary comparisons. Villemain's criticism, though not quite so flexible as it might have been, was on the whole sound, and the same variety of the art, though with more limitations, was represented by Guizot. Not a few critics of merit of the same kind were born at the close of the last century, or at the beginning of this. Among them may be mentioned M. Nisard, a bitter opponent of the Romantic movement, and a prejudiced critic of French literature, but a writer of very considerable knowledge, and of some literary merit; Eugène Geruzez, author of by far the best history of French literature in a small compass, and of many separate treatises of value; Alexandre Vinet, a Swiss, and a Protestant, who died at no very advanced age, leaving much work of merit; and Saint-Marc Girardin, who busied himself nearly as much in journalism and politics as in literary criticism proper, but whose professorial Cours de Littérature Dramatique is a work of interest, exhibiting a kind of transition style between the older and newer criticism. Michelet, Quinet, M. Renan, and others, who will be mentioned under other heads, have also been considerable as critics. Philarète Chasles was a lively writer, who devoted himself especially to English literature, and whose judgment in matters literary was not quite equal to his affection for them. The critics of the Revue des Deux-Mondes proper include, besides not a few authors named elsewhere, Gustave Planche, a person of curious idiosyncrasy, chiefly remarkable for the ferocity of his critiques; Saint René Taillandier, a dull man of industry; and M. Caro, a man of industry who was not dull. Latterly some younger writers have endeavoured (chiefly in its pages) to set up a kind of neo-classical school, which is equally opposed to modern innovations, and to the habit of studying old French, that is, French before the sixteenth century. The chief of these advocates of a return to the Malherbe-Boileau dungeon is M. Ferdinand Brunetière. We must not omit among the older generation M. Lenient, the author of two admirable volumes on the History of French Satire; among the younger, M. Paul Stapfer, the author of an excellent study of 'Shakespeare et l'Antiquité,' M. Jules Lemaître, a brilliant critic, who is perhaps a little more brilliant than critical, and M. Emile Faguet, whose criticism is as sound as it is accomplished.
Among the representatives of art criticism Viollet-le-Duc as a writer on architecture, and Charles Blanc (brother of Louis) as an authority on decorative art generally, made before their deaths reputations sufficiently exceptional to be noticed here. Here also, as representatives of other classes of literature, the names of Hector Berlioz, the great composer, author of letters and memoirs of great interest; of Henri Monnier, an artist not much less skilful with his pen than with his pencil in satirical sketches of Parisian types (especially his famous 'Joseph Prudhomme'); of Charles Monselet, a miscellaneous writer whose sympathies were as wide and his temper as genial as his literary faculty was accomplished; of X. Doudan, whose posthumous remains and letters attracted much attention after a life of silence; and of the Genevese diarist Amiel, selections from whose vast journal of philosophical sentimentalism and miscellaneous reflection have also been popular, may be cited.
The revived study of old French literature just noticed is the only department of the literature of erudition which can receive notice here, for prose science and classical study fall equally out of our range of possible treatment here. The Histoire Littéraire was revived, and has been steadily proceeded with. Every department of old French literature has been studied, latterly in vigorous rivalry with the Germans. The most important single name in this study has been that of the late M. Paulin Paris, who edited reprints of all sorts with untiring energy, and in a thoroughly literary spirit. The Chansons de Gestes have been the especial care of M. Paulin Paris, his son M. Gaston Paris (Histoire Poétique de Charlemagne), and M. Léon Gautier, who has written, and is now republishing in an altered and improved form, a great work on the early French epics. The Arthurian romances have been more studied in Germany and Belgium than in France, though valuable work has been done in them by M. Paulin Paris, M. Hucher, and others. The Fabliaux have recently appeared in a nearly complete edition, by M. de Montaiglon. M. P. Meyer has thrown new light on the Roman d'Alixandre. The Roman du Renart, also published by Méon, has been undertaken again by M. Ernest Martin. The separate authors of the later ages have, in almost every case, been the subject of much careful work, and for some years past a 'Société des Anciens Textes Français' has existed for the express purpose of publishing unprinted MSS. This society has undertaken the great collection of Miracles de Notre Dame, the works of Eustache Deschamps, and other important tasks. A great deal of excellent work in the same direction has been done in Belgium by members of the various Academies. The great classics of France, from the sixteenth century onward, have been the object of constant and careful editing, such as the classics of no other country have enjoyed. Nor has the linguistic part of the study been omitted. The two chief monuments of this are the great dictionary of Littré, and the complement of it, now in course of publication, by M. Godefroy, which contains a complete lexicon of the older tongue. Among the collections of old French literature, the Bibliothèque Elzévirienne may be especially noticed. This, besides many reprints of isolated authors, contains invaluable examples of the early theatre, a still more precious collection of scattered poems of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and one of miscellanies of the sixteenth and seventeenth. Under the Empire the government began the publication of all the Chansons de Gestes, but the enterprise was unfortunately interrupted at the tenth volume.
The branches of literature, other than the Belles Lettres, which naturally retain, longer than those which busy themselves with science as it is now understood, the literary interest, are philosophy, theology, and history. In philosophy France has produced, during the present century, only one name of the first importance. As has been the case with all other European nations, her philosophical energies have chiefly been devoted to the historical side of philosophy, a tendency specially encouraged by the already-mentioned influence of Cousin. Damiron, the chief authority in French on the materialist schools of the eighteenth century; M. Jules Simon and Vacherot, who busied themselves chiefly with the Alexandrian philosophers — Cousin it should be remembered was the editor of Proclus — and Charles de Rémusat, a man of great capacity, who, among other rather unexpected literary occupations, devoted himself to Abelard, Thomas à Becket, and other representatives of scholasticism, illustrate this tendency. The philosophy of the middle ages was also the subject of one of the clearest and best-written of philosophical studies, the De la Philosophie Scolastique of B. Hauréau. The name, however, of the century in French philosophical literature is that of Auguste Comte, the founder of what is called Positivism. He was born at Montpelier three or four years before the end of the last century, and died at Paris in September, 1857. Comte passed through the discipline of initiation in the Saint Simonian views — Saint Simon was a descendant of the great writer of that name, who developed a curious form of communism very interesting politically, but important to literature only from the remarkable influence it had upon his contemporaries — but, like most of Saint Simon's disciples, soon emancipated himself. To discuss Comte's philosophical views would be impossible here. It is sufficient to say that the cardinal principle of his earlier work, the Cours de Philosophie Positive, is that the world of thought has passed through successively a theological stage and a metaphysical stage, and is now reduced to the observation and classification of phenomena and their relations. On the basis cleared by this sweeping hypothesis, Comte, in his later days (under the inspiration of a lady, Madame Clotilde de Vaux, if he himself be believed), developed a remarkable construction of positive religion. This was indignantly rejected by his most acute followers, the chief of whom was the philologist and critic Littré. Outside of Comtism, France has not produced many writers on philosophy, except philosophical historians. M. Taine, in his De l'Intelligence, turned his acute intellect and ready pen in this direction for a moment, but not with much success. Perhaps from the literary view the most important philosophical writer in French for the last half century is M. Renan, who will find his place more appropriately in the next paragraph. Between Saint Simon and Comte, if space allowed, notice would have to be taken of many political writers of the middle of the century, whose visionary and for the most part communistic views had a considerable but passing influence, such as Cabet, Fourier, Pierre Leroux, and the violent and not wholly sane but vigorous Proudhon. Here, however, nothing but bare mention, and that only for completeness' sake, can be given to them.
In theology, as represented in literature, the dominant interest of the period belongs at first to the continuators of the Liberal-Catholic school of Lamennais. The greatest of these, beyond all question, was Charles Forbes de Montalembert, whose mother was a Scotchwoman, and his father French ambassador in Sweden. He was born in April, 1810, and died on the 13th of March, 1870. Montalembert was young enough to come under the influence of Lamennais only indirectly, and at the extreme end of that writer's orthodox period. His immediate master was rather the eloquent Abbé Lacordaire. His father was a peer of France, and Montalembert succeeded early to his position, which gave him an opportunity of supporting the great contention of the Liberal Catholics under Louis Philippe, the right to establish schools for themselves. Being devoted first of all to the defence of ecclesiastical interests by every legitimate means, and having no anti-Republican prejudices, Montalembert was able to accept the second Revolution, though not the Second Empire, and he continued to be one of the most moderate, but dangerous, opponents of the government of Napoleon III. His chief works, which have much brilliancy and vigour, are his 'Life of Elizabeth of Hungary,' his 'Life and Times of St. Anselm,' his Avenir Politique de l'Angleterre, and, most of all, his great work on 'The Monks of the West from St. Benedict to St. Bernard.' A fellow worker with Montalembert, though earlier cut off, was Frédéric Ozanam, a brilliant student and lecturer in mediaeval history, who was the chief literary critic of the Neo-Catholic movement during the later years of Louis Philippe's reign. Ozanam's chief work was his study on Dante. About this time a considerable resurrection of pulpit eloquence took place. Its chief representative was the already-mentioned Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, who was born in 1802, and died in 1861. Lacordaire was a partner of Lamennais in the Avenir. But, unlike his master, he took the papal reproof obediently, and continued to preach in the orthodox sense. He entered the order of St. Dominic in 1840, but was nevertheless elected to the Assembly, in 1848, as a compliment, doubtless, to the fervent radicalism he had displayed earlier. Lacordaire's literary reputation is almost entirely confined to his sermons, the most famous of which were preached at Notre Dame. Other celebrated preachers of the middle of the century were, on the Catholic side, the Père Félix, and on the Protestant, Athanase Coquerel. Of the extreme orthodox party, during the Second Empire, the chief names from the point of view of literature were those of Monseigneur Dupanloup, bishop of Orleans, and the journalist, Louis Veuillot. The former, one of the most eloquent and one of the ablest men of his time in France, began with a certain liberalism, but gradually hardened into extremer views, distinguishing himself in his place in the Academy by violent opposition to the admission of M. Littré, as a positivist. The latter, as editor of the journal L'Univers, brought remarkable wit and a faculty of slashing criticism, not often equalled, to the service of his party, indulging, however, too often in mere scurrility. From this same literary point of view, the chief name in the theological literature of this period is once more on the unorthodox side. Since the days of Joseph de Maistre the church had far more than held her own in the literary arena; but the discouragement given at Rome to the followers of Lamennais seemed to bring ill luck with it. Ernest Renan, who, with some faults, is one of the most remarkable masters of French style in our time, was born in 1823, at Tréguier in Britanny. He was intended for the priesthood, and was educated for the most part at clerical seminaries. On arriving, however, at manhood, he did not feel inclined to take orders; accepted the place of usher at a school, and soon distinguished himself by linguistic studies, especially on the Semitic languages. He also exercised himself a good deal in literary criticism and as a journalist of all work on the staffs of the Journal des Débats and the Revue des Deux-Mondes. His first really remarkable work, published in 1850, is Averroès et l'Averroïsme, a book injured by the author's want of sympathy with the thought of the middle ages, but full of research and of reflection. This gained him a post in the Paris Library. He then produced several works, dealing more or less with the Hebrew Scriptures. In 1860 he had a government mission to Phoenicia and Palestine, which enabled him to examine the Holy Land very attentively. On his return he was appointed to the chair of Hebrew at the Collège de France, but the outcry against his unorthodoxy was so great that he was suspended. He began about this time to publish his famous series of Origines du Christianisme with, for a first volume, a Vie de Jésus, imbued with a curious kind of eclectic and romantic rationalism. This has been followed by numerous volumes dealing with the early ages of Christianity. In 1870 he made himself conspicuous by a letter to Strauss on the subject of the Franco-German War. After the catastrophe he confined himself for a time to literary and philosophical studies. Recently, however, besides working at his Origines, which are now completed, he has produced some half-political, half-fanciful studies of great literary excellence, such as Caliban, a satire on democracy, and La Fontaine de Jouvence, a brilliant mediaeval fantasy-piece, covering a violent attack on Germany. M. Renan is, in point of style, perhaps the most considerable prose writer of France now living who is a prose writer only. His prejudices are strong, and his strictly argumentative and logical faculty rather weak. In temperament he is what may be called a sentimental rationalist. But his literary knowledge is extraordinarily wide and very accurate, while his literary sympathies, though somewhat irregular in their operation, are warm. These peculiarities reflect themselves in his style, which is a direct descendant of that of Rousseau through M. Renan's own countryman, Chateaubriand. As a describer of scenery he is unmatched among his contemporaries. He has an extraordinary power of vivid and interesting narration inclining somewhat to the over-picturesque. No one is able more cleverly to seize on the most striking and telling features of a landscape, a book, a character, and, by adroit dwelling on these, to present the whole as vividly as possible to his readers. No one again is more thoroughly master of a certain rather vague but telling eloquence which deals chiefly with the moral feelings and the domestic affections, and exercises an amiably softening influence on those who submit themselves to it. M. Renan in style is rather an orator than a writer, though the extreme care and finish which he bestows on his work give him a high place in literature proper.
In history a group of distinguished names, besides a still larger number of names only less individually distinguished, deserve notice. First among these, in order of time, may be mentioned the two brothers Amédée and Augustin Thierry, the former of whom was born in 1787, and died in 1873, while the latter, born in 1795, died in 1856. Both devoted themselves to historical studies. But, while Amédée employed himself almost wholly on the history of Gaul during Roman times and on Roman history, Augustin, who was by far the more gifted of the two, took a wider range. He was born and educated at Blois, and for some time devoted himself to politics and sociology, being a disciple of Saint Simon, and a fellow-worker of Comte. He soon, however, betook himself to history, and in 1825 published his 'History of the Norman Conquest in England.' Blindness followed, but he was able to continue his work. In 1835 he published Dix Ans d'Etudes Historiques, and in 1840, what is perhaps his best work, Récits des Temps Mérovingiens, a book which has few rivals as exhibiting in a fascinating light, but without any sacrifice of historical accuracy to mere picturesqueness, the circumstances and events of an unfamiliar time. His last work of importance was an essay on the Tiers Etat and its origin. Thierry is an excellent example of an historian handling, with little guidance from predecessors, a difficult and neglected but important age.
Far less important as a historian, but distinguished by his double character of statesman and littérateur, in which he was more fortunate than his two rivals in the same double career, Guizot and Lamartine, was Louis Adolphe Thiers, who was born at Marseilles, of the lower middle class, in 1797. He was brought up for the law, being educated at Marseilles and at Aix. Then he went to Paris, and after a short time obtained work on the Constitutionnel as supporter of the liberal opposition during the Restoration. His Histoire de la Révolution Française appeared between 1823-1827, and brought him much reputation, which was very ill deserved as far as fulness and accuracy of information are concerned. French readers, however, have ever been indifferent to mere accuracy, and are given to admire even a superficial appearance of order and clearness; at any rate, the book, added to his considerable reputation as a political writer, made him famous. A paper, which he founded in the beginning of 1830, the National, had much share in bringing about the Revolution of that year. After it Thiers was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for Aix, and in a short time became a renowned debater. He held office again and again under Louis Philippe, and was believed to be in favour of a warlike policy. When he retired from office he began his principal literary work (a continuation of his first), 'The History of the Consulate and the Empire.' He took no part in the Revolution of 1848, and accepted the Republic, but was banished at the coup d'état, though not for long. In 1863 he re-entered the Chamber, having constantly worked at his History, which tended not a little to reconstruct the Napoleonic legend. Yet he was a steady though a moderate opponent of the Second Empire. On its downfall, Thiers, as the most distinguished statesman the country possessed, undertook the negotiations with the enemy — a difficult task, which he performed with extreme ability. He then became President of the Republic, which post he held till 1873. He died on the 3rd of September, 1877. The chief fault of Thiers as a historian is his misleading partiality, which is especially displayed in his account of Napoleon's wars, and reaches its climax in that of the battle of Waterloo. He has, however, great merits in lucidity of arrangement, in an eloquent, if rather declamatory style, and in a faculty of conveying a considerable amount of information without breaking the march of his narrative.
By a curious coincidence, the chief rival of Thiers in politics (at least during the greater part of his life) was of his own class and condition, and, like him, primarily a man of letters. François Pierre Guillaume Guizot was, however, ten years the senior of Thiers, having been born in 1787, at Nîmes. Guizot was a Protestant, and his father perished in the Terror. He was educated at Geneva, but went to Paris early, and produced in 1809 (being then only twenty-two) a dictionary of synonyms. After this he did miscellaneous literary work of various kinds, and at the Restoration filled, as a moderate Royalist, various posts under government, being appointed, among other things, to a history professorship at the Sorbonne. He became more and more liberal, and in 1824 his lectures were forbidden. His literary activity, was, however, incessant, his greatest work being a collection of early French historical writings in thirty-one volumes. He also paid much attention to the history of England, and published, in 1826, a Histoire de la Révolution d'Angleterre. This was followed by many other works, of which his 'History of Civilisation in Europe,' and 'History of Civilisation in France,' are the best known. He had been elected a member of the Chamber before the Revolution of 1830, and after it he was appointed minister of Public Instruction, having the powerful support of the Broglie family. He was afterwards ambassador to London, and then Prime Minister, being, it is said, very much to blame for the Revolution of February. He escaped to London with some difficulty, and, though he revisited France, had to return to England at the advent of Louis Napoleon. He was not, however, a permanent exile, but was allowed to enjoy his estate at Val Richer in Normandy. He died in 1874, having been incessantly occupied on literary work of all kinds (chiefly connected with French and English history) for the last half century of his life. The chief of these in bulk was a voluminous history of France not completed till after his death. Guizot's enormous fertility (for not a twentieth of his works has been mentioned) perhaps injuriously affected his style, which is not remarkable. Sound common sense and laborious acquaintance with facts are his chief characteristics.
A companion of Thiers at college, and a protégé of his during his years of power, was François Mignet. Born a year before his friend, he outlived him. Mignet, too, wrote, and at the same time as Thiers, a History of the French Revolution of curiously different character. He became secretary of the Institute, and in 1837 a member of the Academy. His chief later works were on the 'Spanish Succession,' on Mary Stuart, and on Charles the Fifth after his abdication, with, last of all, the rivalry of Charles V. and Francis I. Mignet is as trustworthy as Thiers is the reverse. But his historical manner is exceedingly dry, as also is his style, though it is correct and not inelegant.
A very different writer was Jules Michelet, the most original and remarkable historian in point of style that France has ever produced. Born at Paris, in 1798, he was also educated there, and became a schoolmaster. Soon after he came of age he was transferred to the Ecole Normale. The Revolution of 1830, owing to the influence of Cousin and Guizot, opened great opportunities for historical students, and Michelet was enabled to publish not a few historical treatises, some of a rather specialist nature, others popular abstracts of French history. In 1838 he was appointed to a chair in the Collège de France, and, in conjunction with his friend Quinet, he took part in the violent polemic against the Jesuits which distinguished the time. He had already for some years begun his strange and splendid Histoire de France, 1833-1867, but he accompanied its progress with a crowd of little books of a controversial and miscellaneous character. Shortly before the Revolution of 1848 he began, and soon after the coup d'état finished, his Histoire de la Révolution. He declined to take the oaths to the Empire, and so lost the place in the Record Office which he then held. He died in 1874, and, notwithstanding his incessant literary activity during his life, various unpublished works have appeared since, one of which, describing the hunger-pinched population of the Riviera, is a masterpiece of his volcanic style. This style is characteristic not only of his great history, but also of his smaller books, of which Des Jésuites, Du Prêtre, Du Peuple, L'Oiseau, L'Insecte, L'Amour, La Sorcière (the last perhaps the most remarkable of all), are especially noteworthy. It is entirely unlike the style of any previous French writer, except that of Lamennais, who was, however, rather Michelet's contemporary than his predecessor, and that of Victor Hugo, in some of his more recent work. Broken and irregular in construction, it is extraordinarily vivid in colour, and striking in the outline of its presentment. The History of France is a book to which little justice can be done in the space here available. It is strongly prejudiced by Michelet's republican and anti-Catholic views, and, like all picturesque histories, it brings into undue relief incidents and personages which have happened to strike the author's imagination. But it is extraordinarily stimulating, full of energy and life, and almost unequalled in the power with which the writer restores and revives the past.
A bosom friend of Michelet, and his compeer in the attack on the Jesuits, was Edgar Quinet, who was born near Bourg in 1803, and died in 1875. He was brought up for the most part at his country home in a retired situation, where he early showed not only great devotion to literature, but a curious tendency towards philosophic mysticism. He travelled in Germany when young, and his translation of Herder's Philosophie der Geschichte introduced him to Cousin, and gave him some profit and much reputation. He was sent to Greece on a government mission, and after a time received a professorship, first at Lyons, and then at Paris, though his republicanism did not recommend him. He was an active supporter of the Revolution of February, and a consistent opponent of the Empire, during which he remained in exile. Quinet's works, both in poetry and prose, are numerous. The chief are a great prose poem, or dramatic allegory, called Ahasuerus, 1834, a work on the early French epics (insufficiently informed, but appreciative and enthusiastic), Le Génie des Religions, 1843 (a series of discourses full of the widest and vaguest generalisation, but stimulating and generous), Les Révolutions d'Italie, Merlin l'Enchanteur, 1861 (another curious book something after the fashion of Ahasuerus), a nondescript miscellany on history and science entitled La Création, 1869, and La Révolution, 1865. His poems (in verse) are Prométhée, Napoléon, Les Esclaves, of which the first and last are dramatic in form. His style and thought were strongly tinged with mysticism, and with a singular undogmatic pietism, as well as with strong but speculative republicanism in politics. He is thus not a historian to consult for facts (though his knowledge both of history and literature was accurate and wide), but an inspiriting generaliser on the philosophy of history. Both in Michelet and in Quinet there is an affectation of the seer, as well as an undue fluency of language, and an absence of precision in form and place, which detract from their otherwise high literary value. The collected works of the first exceed fifty volumes, those of the second fill nearly thirty; and much of this vast total is ephemeral in interest and unchastened in form. Although neither was a journalist, both exhibit the defects of a period of journalism.
The last of the greater names calling for mention is that of Alexis de Tocqueville, who was born, of a noble Norman family, at Verneuil, in 1805. Tocqueville was educated for the bar, and called to it after the Restoration. But after the revolution of July he exchanged his appointment in the magistracy for a travelling mission to America, to examine the prisons and penitentiaries of the United States. He, however, studied something else than prisons, and, in 1835, published his famous work on 'Democracy in America.' He married an Englishwoman, and soon afterwards entered the Chamber. During the Republic he occupied positions of some importance. The Empire dismissed him from public life, but gave him the opportunity of writing his second great book on the Ancien Régime. His health was, however, weak, and he died, in 1859, of consumption. The characteristics of Tocqueville as a historian (or rather as a philosophic essayist on history) are great purity and clearness of style, unusual logical power, and an entire absence of prepossession. He is one of the few historians who have treated democracy without either enthusiastic love for it on the one hand, or fanatical dislike and fear of it on the other; and his two books are, and are likely to remain, classics.
A very rapid survey must suffice for the remainder of the names in this division. A. de Barante, among numerous other works of merit, is best known by a careful and detailed history of the Dukes of Burgundy; J. A. Buchon, Petitot, J. A. Michaud, and J. Poujoulat, produced invaluable collections of the chronicles and memoirs in which France is so rich. J. J. Ampère occupied himself chiefly with Roman history, and with the history of France and French literature in the Gallo-Roman time. A. Beugnot, besides other work, arranged a precious collection of feudal law. Emile de Bonnechose wrote a good short history of France. Louis Blanc (an important actor in the Revolution of 1848) produced an elaborate and well-written history of the Revolution from the moderate republican side, and afterwards reprinted from newspapers some curious letters from England during his exile here. In opposition chiefly to Thiers, P. Lanfrey, in a laborious history of Napoleon, entirely overthrew the Napoleonic legend, and damaged, it would seem irreparably, the character of its hero. Philippe de Ségur gave a history of the Russian campaign of Napoleon. Mortimer-Ternaux accomplished a valuable history of the Terror. M. Henri Martin was the author of the only recent history of France on a scale which challenges comparison with Michelet. It has no extraordinary literary merit, and its author was something of a partisan. But it is full, sober, and fairly accurate. In recent days M. Taine, deserting literary and philosophical criticism for history, executed a new and remarkable history of the Revolution, which, by once more putting its horrors in a clear and fair light, very much irritated the partisans of the 'ideas of 89.' The Duke d'Aumale has made something more than a mere addition to the works of 'Royal and Noble Authors,' in his History of the Princes of Condé. The Duke de Broglie, a politician, upon whom the political changes of France enforced political retirement, has produced a series of historical works on the 18th century and has edited the interesting memoirs of his father, the patron of Guizot. Of other recent memoirs by far the most remarkable, whether as literature or history, are those of Madame de Rémusat, mother of Charles de Rémusat, who died early in the Restoration period, but whose memoirs and letters, not published till after her son's death (but already referred to here), have given her a posthumous reputation hardly inferior to that of any of the literary ladies before her and not likely soon to wane.
292 Mérimée's work is not absolutely despicable in bulk, for it extends to some eighteen volumes pretty closely packed. But much of these is occupied with familiar letters, and much more with merely miscellaneous writing. His finished and definitely literary publications do not amount to a third of the whole.
293 In this notice of the acting drama of France, with which, as contrasted with the literary theatre, the present writer has comparatively little acquaintance, he is considerably indebted to Mr. Brander Matthews' useful French Dramatists of the Nineteenth Century. London and New York; 1882.
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