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he was formed for better things—or that he had with all his peculiarities, what the world calls amiable manners—nay, that his natural impulses were good, and that he had a heart full of kindness to those who did not, and especially who could not provoke his resentment or mortify his sensitive, selfish and gloomy pride. But winning as he is in his moments of good nature—interesting and amiable, for instance, as he appears throughout almost the whole of this voluminous compilation of letters and confessions, we see nothing to make us think differently of his principles or his ruling passion—the things by which a man's conduct in life, will, in the long run, be determined. We apply to him without changing a syllable, his own lines in relation to Manfred.
"This should have been a noble creature; he
Hath all the energy which would have made
A goodly frame of glorious elements,
Had they been wisely mingled; as it is,
It is an awful choas—light and darkness—
And mind and dust—and passions and pure thoughts,
Mixed, and contending without end or order."
Art. II.—1. Chansons de P. J. De Beranger. Nouvelle Edition. Baudouin Freres, Editeurs. Paris, 1826. 2 torn: 12mo. pp. 600.
2. Chansons Intdites de P. J. De Beranger, suivies des Proces. Baudouin Freres, Editeurs. Paris, 1828, pp.345.
The distinction between popular and national poetry is sufficiently obvious. Although the dividing line may be somewhat indistinctly traced, there is yet a real difference answering to the etymological distinction, which should decide our use of the terms. The poetry of the one class forms a constituent of the literature of almost every people; while that of the other depends, for its existence, upon certain peculiar circumstances which can alone call it into being, or prolong its duration.
In the term, national poetry, we do not here include the more elaborate and ornamented literary monuments of national glory, but leaving out of view all patriotic Epopees and other works of the same stamp, we refer merely to those brief and simple records, which, from their very brevity and simplicity, become the popular medium of the themes they celebrate—to the national song—to those ballads or odes, which, while they come under the class of popular poetry, from their general diffusion among all classes, are not merely the vehicles of light and trifling emotions, or the annals of insignificant events; but embody in themselves those brilliant incidents of history, which confer dignity and importance upon whatever instrument may be used to communicate them.
In this light, the ballad which calls forth, in its every line, some new emotion from the fullest fountains of the heart, receives an importance for which it is indebted neither to the difficulty of its structure, nor the adornment of its style, and thus, the unpolished song may far exceed in circulation and in influence the lofty and elaborate epic. For one, who has analytically considered and critically admired the stately march and swelling diction of the Henriade, in how many hundred breasts have the wild changes of passion been rung upon the chords of hope and fear, of rage and revenge, in answer to the fierce energy of the " Carmagnole" and the" Ca-ira" "which, unto cars as rugged, seem a song."
"Ah! ca-ira, ca-ira, ca-ira!
Nous nous mouillerons,* mais ca finira."
This national poetry necessarily depends for its existence upon the character of the government and of the people. It would be a farce to speak of a Turkish national ballad. "U ai'y a point de patrie dans ladespotique;\ and before the existence of the people as such is clearly felt, it matters not in what way, they can have neither glory nor a poet. As long as the nation is merged in the monarch, as long as the knee is bent and the praises given to the unreal mockery, so long are they in the condition of the brave who lived before Agamemnon—carent vote sacro.
Spain presents a striking instance of this class of literature as conforming itself to these two conditions. Who, to look now upon that victim of European policy and priestcraft, would believe that she had a national poetry—yet she has; and one of six centuries standing. It docs not owe its commencement to a period when the whole people from the noble to the pea
* We suppose every reader knows that this song was written at an assembly of iiie people on the Chimp de Mars, 1790, during a shower of raii'
t La Bruycre.
sant, crushed by external force seem to have lost individual, as well as national existence, but when every energy was developed, when every nerve was strung and sinew braced for the preservation of their very being—when their religion, too, was at stake, and when the contest was between Christian and Mohammedan no less than between Spaniard and Moor.
It does not, however, follow, that every free people has, of necessity, a national poetry: our own country presents clear proof to the contrary. But Ave are not a musical race; and are as destitute of popular songs as of those of a patriotic cast. The stern spirit of our ancestors, Huguenot as well as Pilgrim is yet abroad; they scorned music with all its harlotry; and to this circumstance must be ascribed the otherwise very extraordinary fact that not a single event of our revolution has descended to us commemorated in this form—a form apparently the most ephemeral, yet really the most lasting of all records of greatness and triumph.
"Teems not each ditty with the glorious tale?
With the single exception, however, of our own country, the rule may be said to hold good, that to the period when the national existence is first fully developed and its energies called into action, we may, with reason, look for the commencement of a national poetry. The French, though their literature abounds in the song, and though they have had popular poetry ever since the time of the Troveres and Troubadours, had not a single literary production which might be termed national until the period immediately preceding the revolution. The well known lines
"Vive Henri Quatre;
Vive ce roi vaillant!
Ce diable i quatre
A le triple talent,
De boire, de battre,
Et d'etre un vert galant."
have always been much in vogue with the mass of the French, but it would be difficult to construe these attributes of the Bearnais into elements of national glory, nor would they have been celebrated by that gallant people, had not the victories of Bouvines and Ivry been deemed rather the achievement of the so
* Uhilde Harold. None of the works either of Barlow or Hopkinson, can offer any exception to the observation in the text.
vereign than of his followers. How different from this were the national songs at a later period, though under a despotism more rigorous than any which had preceded that of the empire. In the ballads then popular with the army, we find no chorus ringing eternal changes upon Bonaparte, Napoleon, Empereur, &c. &c. In lieu of this, they breathe even the highest and most ardent aspirations after liberty: so much so, that the contrast between their poetry and their actual condition is often almost ludicrous, as for instance:
"Liberte'! liberte! que tout mortel te rend homage;
This is the burden of one of the earliest productions of revolutionary frenzy, "Le salnt de la France" better known as " Veillons an salut dt I'Empire," which the emperor for political reasons introduced, at a period long subsequent, into the army, in order to supersede the "Oupeuton etremieux," Sfc* Who can doubt that multitudes of the brave men who threw away their lives with these words on their lips, fully believed that they were struggling for the cause of freedom—but this is now well recognized as one of the prominent features of the policy by which that most extraordinary man cozened nations as easily as individuals.
With " Henri Quatre," are to be classed " La belle Gabrielle" "LeclairdalaLune," "LeroiDagobert," and many productions of a similar character which have always been popular, but which do not contain a spark of national feeling. Nor can an exception be made in favour of the political squibs, such multitudes of which were let off in the times of the ligue, and still later, as,
"Palsambleu, la nouvelie est bonne
for these vehicles of factionary virulence ran with no propriety be considered as forming any part of the national poetry. Still less can we admit under this denomination, the lyrical effusions of Jean Bapliste Rousseau and Boileau, as the " Ode sur la bataille de Petervaradein" and that "Sur la prise de Namur" which, to be sure, relate to victories of the French, but which
* Vide Hist. Segur.
only treat them as conferring glory upon the successful monarch or general, and which, besides, are wholly prevented by their interminable length and entire want of energy and animation, from attaining any existence apart from the huge quartos in which they now lie entombed.
The French national song cannot, therefore, be said to have existed before the revolution. Rouget de Lisle,* in his " Hymne des MarseiUais" and Chenier in his magnificent" Chant du Depart" and "Chant des Vicloires" laid the corner stone; others of equal talent have sprung up and co-operated with these bold and original architects; and from the infinity of verse, in which have been commemorated the glories of France, from their time to that of the poet whom we are about more particularly to notice, can now be selected a body of national poetry, as rich and extensive, as valuable in itself and as important from the subjects it records, as can form the boast of any European nation.
It is by no means our intention, to pass in review the extensive subject of French national poetry; we wish merely to call the attention of the public to one of the latest writers of this class, the author of the works whose names we have placed at the head of this article.
Pierre Jean de Beranger, if we may rely upon his song of "Le Tailleur etlaFee" was born of humble parents in Paris, the 19th of August, 1780. The particle of nobility de which forms a part of his name does not, it seems, in his case, correspond to a single particle of noble blood; indeed he is quite strenuous in disclaiming all connexion with the aristocracy; as for instance in the first stanza of "Le Vilain," (t. 1. p. 211.)
"Eh quoi! j'apprends que l'on critique
Le de qui precede mon nom.
Etes-vous de noblesse antique?
Moi, noble 1 oh! vraiment, messieurs, non.
Non, d'aucune chevalerie
Je n'ai le brevet sur velin;
Je ne sais qu'aimer ma patric
Je suis vilain et tres vilain. &c. &c."
There is no improbability in the report which asserts that he commenced his career as a waiter in an inn; we have his own
* It may not be irrelevant to notice the somewhat singular fact, that this poet of the revolution, who, by the way, never wrote any thing equal to the MarseiUais Hymn, (and the mnsic of this, be it said with deference, is considerably superior to the words) is still engaged in contributing his mite to the national poetry of France. In 1825, he published a collection of patriotic effusions, entitled " Cinquanle Chantt Fran^ais."