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CONTENTS OF NO. XL.
I. RABELAIS AND HIS TIMES..
1. Euvres de Rabelais. Edition Variorum, Augmentée de Pièces Inédites, des
Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel, etc. 10 vols. 2. The Works of Francis Rabelais. Translated from the French. By Sir
THOMAS URQUHART and MATTEUX. 2 vols.
Livres du Roman Satirique de Rabelais, etc. Par M. J. CH. BRUNET.
II. NATIONAL ORGANIC LIFE...,
1. Social Statics. By ROBERT SPENCER.
III. LOUIS XI. AND HIS TIMES..
1. Histoire de France. Par M. MICHELET, Professeur-Suppléant à la Faculté
des Lettres, Professeur à l'Ecole Normale, Chef de la Section Historique
aux Archives du Royaume. 2. Histoire de Louis XI., Roi de France. Par M. Duclos, member de l'Acad.
emie Royale des Inscriptions et de Belles-Lettres. 3. The Memoirs of Philip de Commines, Lord of Argenton: containing the
histories of Louis XI. and Charles VIII., kings of France, and of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy. To which is added The Scandalous Chronicle, or Secret History of Louis XI., by Jean de Troys. Edited, with life and notes, by ANDREW R. SCOBLE, Esq. In two volumes.
IV. OPIUM AND THE OPIUM TRADE...
1. Stimulants and Narcotics, their mutual relations, with special researches on
the action of Alcohol, Ether, and Chlorofarm, on the Vital Organism. By
FRANCIS E. ANSTIE, M. D., M. R. C. P.
BRITISH RESIDENT. With Illustrations.
V. ERASMUS AND HIS INFLUENCE.
1. Colloquiorum Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami Familiarium. Opus Aureum.
(The Familiar Colloquies of Erasmus, dc.) By DES. ERASMUS. 2. Epitome Adagiorum. (Epitome of Adages, &c.) By D. Eras. Vita Des.
Erasmi. (The Life of Erasmus.) By MERULA.
VI. THE FRENCH CRISIS..
1. Budget de l'Empire, 1869.
unud English Periodicals
VII. A NEIGHBORING WORLD...
1. Astronomie Populaire. By F. ARAGO. 4 vols, 12mo.
VIII. OUR CRIMINALS AND OUR JUDICIARY........
1. Report of Criminal Trials in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
IX. NOTICES AND CRITICISMS.
Education and History
389 398 404
NATIONAL QUARTERLY REVIEW.
Art. I.-1. Euvres de Rabelais. Edition Variorum, Augmentée
de Pièces Inédiles, des Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel, etc. 10 vols.
Paris. 2. The Works of Francis Rabelais. Translated from the French.
By SIR THOMAS URQUHART and MATTEUX. 2 vols. London. 3. Recherches Bibliographiques et Critiques sur les Editions Origi
nales des cing. Livres du Roman Satirique de Rabelais, etc. Par
M. J. Ch. BRUNET. Paris. 1852. 4. François Rabelais. Par Delécluse. Paris. 1841. 5. Rabelais, sa Vie et ses Ouvrages. Par P. LACROIX. Paris. 1859.
DELVING among the strata of the past, and contemplating the gigantic convulsions of some important mental epochs, we find many things for which it is difficult for us, with the light we possess, to account. Rabelais is a stumbling-block to those of English prejudices and severe tastes. He belonged to a great age, an age that spoke plain truths plainly. This was well; but that epoch saw things grossly, and so gave utterance to much that we feel to be indecency. It was an honest age, otherwise it could not have been great, it could not have produced its great writers and historical characters; but it lacked refinement. What seemed to it truth it uttered boldly and unblushingly, as a man of science can treat of the
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human anatomy without a thought of indelicacy. This great, true epoch has fairly overshadowed all succeeding times, which have refined their manners without improving their morals. For not daring to be true we have degenerated. Yet, in returning to truth, we need not go back to grossness. We must learn to be at once truthful and refined. We may admit, when necessary, that we have a sink-hole in the house, yet we need not keep it always uncovered, to offend the nostrils with its odors. But we must beware of doing injustice to the intellectual giants of that heroic age.
We, pigmies, perched upon our summits of science, and the thought and learning of the past, have no right to assume that we can determine the worth of those colossal figures, although in the valley. We can but clear away the sand and lava about them, measure their gigantic proportions, and humbly admire them. We find that they are not altogether suited to our times, but it does not follow that they are unworthy of our reverence. A colossal statue designed to be placed upon a lofty pedestal, does not require the delicacy of finish of a parlor mantel ornament. It is absurd to exact the fineness of detail necessary to a statuette, in a vast form, intended to bestride an arm of the sea, under which the largest vessels can pass, to bear light to guide the navies of all nations, and to be one of the wonders of the world. Let us unearth the monuments of a heroic past, and study them with due humility and admiration, learning from them what we can, but let us not apply to them the rules which suit our straightened circumstances.
The age of Rabelais was a creative one ; ours is not so, except in a material and purely external way. We are creating, or, perhaps, rather reforming, states and statutes, and constructing multitudinous and wonderful material improvements. In the domain of mind and soul there are modern thinkers, who are doing much as analysts and critics, but we have no creators. German, French, and English philosophy and research furnish our best specimens of intellectual effort. In physical science we are progressive, but we can not claim to have brought any extraordinary mental power into this domain. Our age is generally a superficial one. We talk
glibly and boast bombastically, but we are really doing little more than to use up the materials of the past, and brag about them as though they were our own. This is especially true in literature. We need satirists like Rabelais, to act as critics upon our times. In studying him, and other great critics of manners and morals, we can learn much to assist us in correcting our own. We must believe that Rabelais, whose language so offends us, took the only course then open to him to benefit his cotemporaries. He wished to show up the hideous form of vice, and he must paint her in colors which would serve his purpose. He effected his object most excellently, and it is not for us to criticise too severely the means by which it was accomplished. The people of that day were powerfully moved and benefited by his satire; we must presume that it was done in the best manner.
The period in and for which Rabelais wrote was that of the revival of classical learning in Europe and of reformation in religion. It was a period of rebellion against established authority, of closest scrutiny into the realities and proprieties of doctrine and of custom. The leading minds of the day were disgusted with the fictions of state and society, and were determined to endure the shackles of a false conventionality no longer. “The Lives of Gargantua and Pantagruel” reflects not only the manners, but the tone of thought and the aspirations of the day. It is a record of a gigantic struggle against the tyrannies of custom. It is also an epitome of the state of science, learning, and laws existing when it was written. Coleridge says:
“Beyond a doubt Rabelais was among the deepest as well as boldest thinkers of his age. His buffoonery was not merely Brutus's rough stick, which contained a rod of gold. .. I could write a treatise in praise of the moral elevation of Rabelais' work which would make the church stare and the conventicles groan, and yet would be truth and nothing but the truth. I class Rabelais with the great creative minds of the world, Shakspeare, Dante, Cervantes," etc.*
A great deal has been written about Rabelais, yet we have but meagre and unsatisfactory accounts of his life. There
* A Course of Lectures, 1. ix. See, also, Table Talk, v. i., p. 177.