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sacrifice to the laws and rules of an imaginary | had already availed himself, that this romance state of society." **-vol. iii. pp. 667, 668.
gave for displaying his own mind. He had be.
come attached to a hero who had made him illus. Hence the inference that ‘Don Quixote' trious, and suffered himself to lose sight of the is a most melancholy-some even have clear outline he had once traced for Quixote's pergone so far as to add, as destroying the that although the lunacy as to knights errant re
sonality. Hence we find, in all this second part, generous poetry of life, a most immoral mains unabated, he is, on all other subjects, not book. Mr. Hallam begins by observing, only rational in the low sense of the word, but that as 'the mere enthusiasm of doing philosophy is elevated, but not enthusiastic ; his good, if excited by vanity, and not ac- imagination is poetical, but it is restrained by strong companied by common sense, is seldom sense. There are, in fact, two Don Quixotes; one, very serviceable to mankind
whom Cervantes first designed to draw, the foolish as the world might be much the worse gentleman of La Mancha, whose foolishness bad for such heroes, it might not be immoral, accomplished model of the best chivalry, trained
made him frantic; the other a highly-gifted, notwithstanding their benevolent enthu- in all the court, the camp, or the college could siasm, to put them out of countenance by impart, but scathed in one portion of his mind by a little ridicule.'
an inexplicable visitation of monomania. 'One is
inclined to ask why this Don Quixote, who is Cer: mary aim of Cervantes ; nor do I think that the himself. As a matter of bodily disease, such an 'This, however, is not, as I conceive, the pri- vantes, should have been more likely to lose his
intellects by, reading romances than Cervantes exhibition of one great truth, as the predominant, but concealed, moral of a long work, is in the spirit conceived more improper for fiction, nothing more
event is doubtless possible; but nothing can be of his age. He possessed a very thoughtful mind, and a profound knowledge of humanity ; yet the incapable of affording a moral lesson, than the generalization which the hypothesis of Bouterwek insanity which arises wholly from disease. Insan. and Sismondi requires for the leading conception of ity is, in no point of view, a theme for ridicule ; and Don Quixote, besides its being a litile inconsistent this is an inherent fault of the romance (for those with the valorous and romantic character of its who have imagined that Cervantes has not renderauthor, belongs to a more advanced period of phi. ed Quixote ridiculous have a strange notion of the losophy than his own. .
word); but the thoughtlessness of mankind, rather • In the first chapter of this romance, Cervantes, madness with misery, furnishes some apology for
than their insensibility, for they do not connect with a few strokes of a great master, sots before us the pauper gentleman, an early riser and keen the first two volumes. In proportion as we per. sportsman, who, “when he was idle, which was intellect, we feel a painful sympathy with its hu.
ceive, below the veil of mental delusion a noble most part of the year," gave himself up to reading miliation ; the character becomes more complicat. books of chivalry till he lost his wits. The events that follow are in every one's recollection ; his lu- ed and interesting, but has less truth and naturala nacy consists no doubt only in one idea, but this is nessman objection which might also be made, so absorbing that it perverts the evidence of his comparatively speaking, to the incidents in the senses, and predominates in all his language. It is latter volumes, wherein I do not find the admirable to be observed, therefore, in relation to the noble. probability that reigns through the former. But ness of soul ascribed to Don Quixote, that every the same subject, would have been repulsive in the
this contrast of wisdom and virtue with insanity, in sentiment he utters is borrowed, with a punctilious rigour, from the romances of his library; he resorts primary delineation, as I think any one may judge to them on every occasion for precedents; if he is by supposing that Cervantes had, in the first chapintrepidly brave, it is because his madness and ter, drawn such a picture of Quixote as Bouterwek vanity have made him believe himself
and Sismondi have drawn for him,'- vol. iii. pp.
unconquerable; if he bestows kingdoms, it is because Ama.
669—672. dis would have done the same; if he is honourable, courteous, a redresser of wrongs, it is in pursuance
Mr. Hallam adheres therefore to the of those prototypes from whom, except that he judgment of two centuries as to the aim seems rather more scrupulous in chastity, it is his of Červantes in ‘Don Quixote,' and thus only boast not to diverge. Those who talk of the exalted character of Don Quixote seem really to
sums up his impartial testimony to the forget that, on these subjects, he has no character merit of this wonderful work : at all; he is the echo of romance; and to praise him is merely to say that the tone of chivalry,
· Cervantes stands on an eminence below which
We which these productions studied to keep up, and, we must place the best of his successors. in the hands of inferior artists, foolishly exaggerat have only to compare him with Le Sage or Field. ed, was full of moral dignity, and has, in a subdued ing, to judge of his vast superiority. To Scott in. degree of force, modelled the character of a man deed he must yield in the variety of his power ; of honour in the present day. But throughout the but in the line of comic romance, we should hardly first two volumes of Don Quixote, though in a few think Scott his equal.'—vol. iii. p. 674. unimportant passages he talks rationally, I cannot find more than two in which he displays any other knowledge or strength of mind than the original
While Spain was thus, as it were, ex. delineation of the character would lead us to hausting its whole intellect in one brief expect.
era of poetry, France was more gradual. * The case is much altered in the last two vol. ly yet rapidly maturing at once her short larity, and perceived the opportunity, of which he age of poetic excellence, and that per:
fection of her prose which, if she has * Littérature du Midi, vol. iii. p. 339.
maintained, she has assuredly not sur
passed. We are not very partial to the guide or satisfy the conscience-Pascal old and misapplied phrase, the Augus- himself felt the necessity of becoming tan era of letters ;' but that of France-popular, if we may so say, Parisian. The which began under the monarchy, we French language had never been written presume to say, of Richelieu, and reach- in a higher style of refinement, or spoken ed its height under Louis XIV.-bears so vividly to the general ear, as in the sufficient analogy, in its character and Provincial Letters.' The fine sarcasm, the principles of its formation, to that of the subtle irony, the graceful turn of eximperial Rome, to justify its use. It pression, the poignant hint which cannot seems to have arisen, like that of Virgil be mistaken, the suggestion which reckand Horace, out of the peace of despot- ons, in some degree, on the quickness of ism which followed and was still heav- the reader, the simplicity of statement ing, as it were, with the motion of the which, makes every one suppose that religious wars. Its marked character they are at once at the bottom of the istic was, that it was the literature of a profoundest subject, the quiet coolness court, the influence of which spread with which the most monstrous tenets of through a capital in which all France be- his adversaries are at times illustratedgan to be concentred. It was a litera- these consummate arts of writing, in ture of society, not in its narrow sense which the art is concealed, would have of a coterie, or even of an academy, but been addressed in vain to a ruder age, or that of men constantly in contact with a more agitated society. Whether Pas. each other, exercising a perpetual—at cal is occasionally unfair in his quotatimes a refining and tasteful, at others a tions, or uncandidly general in his infer. repressive and contracting-authority ences from insulated sentences, was, we over its development. It fed on public suspect, as little inquired by the readers applause ; it lived on the immediate sym- of the Provincial Letters' in Paris as pathy of those to whom it was address- it is by posterity. The style, the inimi. ed. Hence its purity, its perspicuity, its table style, carried all before it ; the popularity, in the highest sense—an aris- most fastidious taste might learn a lesson tocratical popularity, indeed, but that of from the purity and clearness of Pascal; an aristocracy which comprehended the and even now, when the questions which better part of France, or rather, we they agitate, and the passions to which should say, of Paris. Montaigne, indeed, they appeal, are obsolete and dead, we to whom France and Europe are indebted revert to the Provincial Letters' as to for bringing many difficult and abstruse the perfection of composition. How subjects within the range of popular much Voltaire was indebted to this exthought, happily for himself and for his traordinary work for his own brilliancy fame as an author, lived in his country of style, he acknowledges as fully as retirement, and there followed out in could be expected from his vanity. The peace all his desultory but delightful keen and furbished weapons which Passpeculations on his own nature and on cal had forged with such skill for the de. that of man. Even during the exclusive fence of the best interests of religion, dominion over French literature, exer- were turned against it in the next age. cised by the court and the capital, some We do not make this observation, howof the more profound thinkers of France ever, to the disparagement of Pascal : dwelt aloof, either in foreign countries, that evil lay deeper than in the influence, like Descartes, or in the retired sanctu- the adventitious and unintentional influary of their own imagination, like Male- ence, of any one man. branche ; or, like Pascal, if we may so As might be expected in the literature say, in the gloomy hermitage of a melan- which adapted itself to such a state of choly mind. Yet though Pascal, when things, many of its cleverest writers were he brooded over his sublime • Thoughts,' writers for society-shrewd and brilliant secluded himself, if not from the society, painters of the manners around themfrom the intellectual intercourse of men, such as La Bruyère and Rochefoucault when he would effect his great moral pur- in prose, and that model of the light and pose, the extirpation of the low Jesuit graceful in verse-whose elegance, wit, morality-when he would expose that and taste, compensate for all the higher subtle casuistry which, working outward qualities of poetry--La Fontaine. from the confessional, was perplexing the But the two great spheres in which moral sense of man, and substituting cap- French poetry and French prose expand. tious and subtle rules for the broad and ed themselves to maturity, where there vigorous principles which can alone was an idle, and, as it would be sup.
posed, a cultivated aristocracy, whose mistaken rigour forbids himself the free atmosphere of life was public spectacle use of the lavish bounties of Divine Proand amusement, were (let not our readers vidence, and thus seals his heart against be shocked at the juxtaposition) the stage many of the most delightful and blameand the pulpit. No one will deny that less enjoyments of life, is an object of there was something more than oratori. compassion to the wise and charitable cal, something dramatic (we use the word Christian ; the rigorist in taste may in in no invidious sense), in those splendid the same manner be pitied for the narrow displays of eloquence which fell from the spirit with which he proscribes many lips of Bossuet, Bourdaloue, and, at a works of genius and beauty, because they later period, of Massillon, and which are not in harmony with his established powerfully contributed to form the vivid theories, and thus shuts himself out, as and numerous character of French prose. it were, from half the world of letters. These sermons were by no means a part The French drama certainly appears to of a general system of instruction; they arise out of two singularly incongruous were great exhibitions, to which the king elements, the classical form of the simple and all his nobles crowded at peculiar old Greek republics, and the gallantry, seasons of the year, in Advent and in which descended from the chivalry of the Lent. Not merely a particular preacher, middle ages upon the luxurious courts of but a particular sermon, was commanded modern Europe. Nothing in fact can be by royal authority. The funeral orations less classical, or less Grecian, in its tone were more peculiarly a kind of aristo. of sentiment, which is almost the vital cratical religious spectacle, accompanied energy of the drama. Yet even these with all the impressive circumstances so discordant elements are wrought up in well understood by the Roman Catholic the best of the French dramas with such Church, and no doubt for a time produc- singular felicity; the construction of the ing strong religious impressions. The drama is sometimes so skilful, the diction year migħt indeed appear divided-not, so pure and noble, the whole effect so in truth, in equal portions-between these unbrokenly solemn, dignified, and imsolemn religious exhibitions and the pro- pressive, that even as works of consumfaner diversions of the drama. In Lent mate art, if not of creative genius and the king turned off his mistresses, the of truth, they cannot but demand our theatres were closed, and nothing was high admiration. Even if the serious seen but the outward signs of penitence, drama, the Roman and Grecian Tragedy and humiliation, and propriety; nothing of France, seems to belong to a peculiar was listened to by the court but the grave state of society, and, after all, may seem arguments of Bourdaloue, or the magni- domiciliated by a forcible transplantation, ficent rhetoric of Bossuet. But Lent rather than native and congenial to the gone by, the old familiarities were again region, still a brilliant court, and an acrenewed; all Paris, at least the court, tively-idle capital, was the soil, of all streamed again to the doors of the the others, adapted to the comedy of characatre, and Corneille and Racine resumed ter and manners. The great mistake in their empire. At length, when the last Schlegel's Lectures on the Drama, the (as the doting old monarch himself per- evidence that theory will mislead even a haps fondly supposed) more legitimate mind so sagacious, profound, and discriliaison with the devout Maintenon was minating as his, appears to us his depreestablished, a still closer approximation ciation of Molière. That Molière has took place between the religious and the not the poetry of comedy which animates theatrical passion ; and by his pleasing the gay and fantastic scenes of Aristo: 'Esther and his noble 'Athalie,' Racine phanes, is unquestionable ; but of all blended, as it might seem to some, the forms of poetry, comedy, we should contwo incongruous characters—that of a ceive, is least to be limited by abstract dramatic writer for public representation, theory, and without abandoning any one and a religious teacher.
of its essential principles, may approxi. Mr. Hallam, though so ardent a Shak- mate the most closely to real life. And sperian, as we have already shown, does though the best French comedy falls far not think it necessary to deny himself short of the Shaksperian in variety and the enjoyment of the excellences of the richness of humour, we can only express French drama. Bigotry in taste, like our unfeigned commiseration for those bigotry in religion, is its own punish- who are insensible to the fine wit, the ment; the victim of the one who from delicate satire, the inimitable truth of its
delineation of character in its higher de the higher French clergy in a state of partment, and its broader but still easy fertile excitement. Nor can it be doubtand playful mirth, its inexhaustible gaie- ed that their constant habit of preaching ty, its brilliant epigram, the fun of its ex- for effect acted with a powerful influence posure of the lighter follies and preten- on their polemic writings. It was as the sions in the Precieuses Ridicules and the practised orator of the pulpit, addressing Bourgeois Gentilhomme.
à refined and fastidious audience, that We must not, however, linger on these the greatest controversialist of modern points, nor extract, either for the purpose times, Bossuet, acquired that force, of expressing our difference, as we might pregnancy and rapidity of style, that in some cases, or, as would more often perspicuity when treating on the abstrus. be the case, our accordance with Mr. est topics—that power of sweeping the Hallam, in the analysis which he has mind along with an irresistible torrent, given of many of the best French dra- as it seems, while we are borne away mas; we have dwelt so almost exclusive- upon it, of unanswerable argument'; of ly on questions of taste, that we are awing and confounding the intellect till conscious that we should do injustice to it dares not, or is almost too much paraa work of such various and comprehen- lysed to venture on examination. The sive character, if we did not likewise training in this same school of popular show the author's manner of treating eloquence enabled the eagle of Meaux to more profound and solemn subjects. cast that clear, and rapid, and compre
We are constrained to pass over, as hensive survey over ancient universal less suited to the general reader, the history. However, it may not satisfy chapters which trace the progress of either by its depth or its accuracy the classical learning and general scholarship, demands of philosophic history, though and those which follow out the discover- it is the view of a strictly Romish eccleies of physical science ; but we must siastic, and clearly shows from what ponot so hastily dismiss the abstruse indeed, sition it is taken ; yet as a composition, but grave and all-interesting subjects of this work of Bossuet's may be consider religion and speculative philosophy. ed among the imperishable records of France certainly owes, if not entirely, in human genius. We must return, howgreat part the brilliancy, life and elo- ever, to our author, and will select his quence of her prose to her ecclesiastical observations on another great, though writers. However Religion might seem unfinished, work of this period, the Pen. to stoop in some degree from her elevat- sées, which Mr. Hallam criticises with ed position to assume the theatric man- the boldness of an independent mind, yet ner required by the state of society, yet with all the respect due to the character from this condescension to popularity and genius of Pascal. We have already she unquestionably derived great lasting spoken of Pascal as a controversialist — advantages. Religion was at this period it is curious to contrast him in this re: one of the great dominant impulses of spect with Bossuet, and to remark with the French mind; the wars of the League what skill, or rather, perhaps, from what had left a violent agitation in the heart conscious congeniality of their own of man; a burning zeal, darkening into character with their style, these eloquent intolerance, which all the gentleness of men used such different weapons, though Fenelon could not allay, and of which he in some degree forged in the same furnace, himself was the victim, still actuated the to encounter such different antagonists. courtly bishops, who administered reli- They are alike, indeed, in purity and pergious flatteries, or at least condescended spicuity of style ;-while the overwhelmto inake their solemn admonitions accepting vehemence of Bossuet would have able to the royal ear, by their dazzled recoiled, if we can suppose it employed and obsequious homage to his sovereign- against it, from the hard and impassive ty. The unexhausted controversy with ice which had formed over the jesuit the Protestants, which was terminated by mind ; on the other hand, the fine and the revocation of the edict of Nantes, cutting irony, the latent sarcasm, the fatally, indeed, for the Gallican Church, wit and the elegance of the Provincial by allowing it to relapse into indolent Letters, would have been repelled by the security, as well as for the faith, justice, ruder yet severer reasonings of the Proand humanity of Louis XIV. ; the strife testants, and produced no effect on their with Jansenism, and even the controver- stubborn and earnest, if we may so say, sy about Quietism, kept the intellect of their homely piety. But we return to
the Thoughts of Pascal. After having i himself to supply. Nothing, however, can be more observed their unsystematic and frag- dissimilar than his beautiful visions to the vulgar mentary character, Mr. Hallam pro- velling, degraded Caliban of that school, but the ceeds :
ruined archangel that he delights to paint. Man is
so great, that his greatness is manifest, even in his Among these who sustained the truth of Chris. knowledge of his own misery. A tree does not tianity by argument rather than authority, the first know itself to be miserable. It is true that to know place both in order of time and of excellence is we are miserable is misery ; but still it is greatness due to Pascal, though his Thoughts were not to know it. All his misery proves his greatness ; published till 1670, some years aster his death, it is the misery of a great lord, of a king, disposand, in the first edition, not without suppressions. sessed of their own. Man is the feeblest branch of They have been supposed to be fragments of a more nature, but it is a branch that thinks. He requires systematic work that he had planned, or perhaps not the universe to crush him. He may be killed only reflections committed to paper, with no design by a vapour, by a drop of water. But if the whole of publication in their actual form. But, as is gen. universe should crush him, he would be nobler than erally the case with works of genius, we do not that which caused his death, because he knows that easily persuade ourselves that they could have he is dying, and the universe would not know its been improved by any such alteration as would power over him. This is very evidently sophistical have destroyed their iype. They are at present and declamatory; but it is the sophistry of a fine bound together by a real coherence through the imagination. It would be easy, however, to find predominant character of the reasonings and senti. better passages. The dominant idea recurs in al. ments, and give us everything that we could desire most every page of Pascal. His melancholy genius in a more regular treatise without the tcdious ver- plays in wild and rapid flashes, like lightning round bosity which regularity is apt to produce. The the scathed oak, about the fallen greatness of man. style is not so polished as in the Provincial Letters, He perceives every characteristic quality of his na. and the sentences are sometimes ill constructed lure under these conditions. They are the solution and elliptical. Passages almost transcribed from of every problem, the clearing up of every inconsis. Montaigne have been published by careless editors tency that perplexes us. "Man," he says very as Pascal's.
finely, " has a secret instinct that leads him to seek • But the Thoughts of Pascal are to be ranked, as diversion and employment from without; which a monument of his genius, above the Provincial springs from the sense of his continual misery. And Letters, though some have asserted the contrary. he has another secret instinct, remaining from the They burn with an intense light : condensed in greatness of his original nature, which teaches him expression, sublime, energetic, rapid, they hurry that happiness can only exist in repose. And from away the reader till he is scarcely able or willing these two contrary instincts there ariscs in him an to distinguish the sophisms from the truth they obscure propensity, concealed in his soul, which conta:n. For that many of them are incapable of prompts him to seek repose through agitation, and bearing a calm scrutiny is very manifest to those even to fancy that the contentment he does not en. who apply such a test
. The notes of Voltaire, joy will be found, if by struggling yet a little longer though always intended to detract, are sometimes he can open a door to rest.” unanswerable ; but the splendour of Pascal's elo • It can hardly be conceived that any one would quence absolutely annihilates, in effect on the think the worse of human nature or of himself by general reader, even this antagonist.
reading these magnificent lamentations of Pascal. 'Pascal had probably not read very largely, which He adorns and ennobles the degeneracy he exag. has given an ampler sweep to his genius. Except gerates. The ruined aqueduct, the broken column, the Bible and the writings of Augustine, the book the desolated city, suggest no ideas but of dignity that seems most to have attracted him was the and reverence. No one is ashamed of a misery Essays of Montaigne. Yet no men could be more which bears witness to its grandeur. If we should unlike in personal disposition and in the cast of their persuade a labourer that the blood of princes flows intellect. But Pascal, thongh abhorring the reli- in his veins, we might spoil his contentment with gious and moral carelessness of Montaigne, found the only lot he has drawn, but scarcely kill in him much that fell in with his own reflections in the the seeds of pride.'-vol. iv. pp. 156–160. contempt of human opinions, the perpetual humbling of human reason, which runs through the bold and We have no space for Mr. Hallam's oboriginal work of his predecessor. He quotes no servations on the profound and difficult book so frequently; and indeed, except Epictetus, problem which is here forced upon the and once or twice Descartes, he hardly quotes any consideration, the origin of evil in man, other at all. Pascal was too acute a geometer, and too sincerc a lover of truth to countenance the so. but we can recommend them as worthy phisms of mere Pyrrhonism ; but like many theolo- the serious consideration of all who are gical writers, in exalting faith he does not always disposed to such grave inquiries. To the the sceptic might employ against himself. It has Christian, after all
, this must be a quesbeen said that he denies the validity of the proofs tion of pure revelation. Experience, obof natural religion. This seems to be in some mea. servation, reason, may show what man is, sure an error, founded on mistaking the objections but whether man ever existed in a higher he puts in the mouths of unbelievers for his own. state can only be known, and, therefore, But it must, I think, be admitted that his arguments for the being of a God are too often à tutiori,
an only be communicated, by an intellithat is the safest side to take.
gence anterior to, and cognisant of, that But the leading principle of Pascal's theology, that pre-existent or paradisaical state. All the from which he deduces the necessary truth of reve. noble contrasts between the dignity and lation, is the fallen nature of mankind; dwelling less upon scriptural proofs, which he takes for grant insignificance, the power and weakness, ed, than on the evidence which he supposes man the crimes and virtues of man, prove no