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How each pale spectre of the host would turn
From the fresh laurel and the glorious urn,
To point where rots, beneath a nameless stone,
Some heart in which had ebbed and flowed its own!

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The Journal of Maurice de Guérin. With an Essay by MATTHEW ARNOLD, and a Memoir by SAINTE-BEUVE. Translated by EDWARD THORNTON FISHER. New York: Leypoldt & Holt. 1867. THIS Journal, which is at last brought out in an American edition, extends only from July, 1832, to October, 1835, and covers that period of Guérin's life which was embraced between his twenty-second and twenty-fifth year. Thus the work is brief. But brevity was no imperfection in Guérin his writings rather resemble those paintings which his countrymen most admire, works in miniature and surprising in accuracy. And this Journal, though it contains a record of no more than three years, yet presents Guérin at a time when his powers were freshest, most self-developed, and free from the influences of Parisian society, the most heated, over-worked, and exaggerated of all societies; when, consequently, his faculties could labor without restraint, and thus appear with all their natural interest.

The Journal begins with Guérin at home in Languedoc; it transports us, after a few entries, to La Chênaie, on the edge of the forest of Coëtquen, in Brittany, where M. de La Mennais was residing and conducting his school. He remained there till September, 1833, when the school was broken up; and, after leaving La Chênaie, passed some time in Brittany, with friends whom he had met at the residence of M. de La Mennais. In February, 1834, he went to Paris; and from that time he appears in new surroundings, and with a character, externally at least, changed. Guérin lived about five years after he went to Paris, and died, at the age of twenty-nine, in 1839.

His Journal stops with 1835, as before said; and all that we know of him thereafter is occasional writings, and the notices of a few friends. But we know enough to assure us, that he did not always preserve that fresh susceptibility to natural impressions which was and is his chief charm. Not that he became debauched or dissipated, or at all deficient in the qualities of a gentleman; but it was precisely by gaining those qualities which allowed him to shine in salons, and to hold his own in repartee and social intercourse with men of wit, that he lost some of his original prestige,- that simple love of nature and thraldom to its charms that had separated him from the mass of conventional men, and given him the quality of "distinction" which Mr. Arnold claims for him.

The Journal, then, shows him in his best period: it presents the fullest account, and exhibits the most marked and striking contrast, of those two qualities which have been pointed out as Guérin's characteristics, and as giving him his individuality. The first was his power of painting nature; the second, his habit of introspection, and his most rare and admirable gift of stating clearly and justly the results of his observations. We do not wish to do again the work which M. Sainte-Beuve and Mr. Arnold have so excellently done,- emphasize these statements of Guérin's peculiarities, and establish them by quotations from his writings. Whoever would see the process by which the result is reached, may find it worked out at length in those essays, or, still better, the original material in the book itself. But there are two remarks which we wish to make upon these topics, and which we think necessary to a right comprehension of Guérin's character, and in referring him to his proper position.

In the first place, when it is said that Guérin was peculiarly alive to the life of nature, and that he not only felt and enjoyed its changing forms, but possessed the power of reproducing the influences that moved him, and idealizing them while reproducing them, it is not to be supposed that he was unique in this characteristic, or that he was the Coryphæus of a school that had never before existed. It is a cause of lamentation with French critics, that so few poets in their nation

have attempted the poetry of fireside and domestic life, or have been happy in a simple and lifelike rendering of nature. Whoever will take the trouble to look at M. Sainte-Beuve's "Causeries," will find, in that which serves as preface to a series of essays upon Cowper, the question stated, and the names and the works of the writers reviewed, who have made attempts in this department of poetry. The list is surprisingly small; and the opinion which Sainte-Beuve pronounces upon the result of their labors, supported as it is by the testimony of others well qualified to judge, will show us what a void there has been in French literature, and will prepare us for whatever transports Frenchmen may manifest, when they meet with writings fitted to supply the national defect. Now it is this condition of French literature, undoubtedly, which accounts for part of the enthusiasm with which Guérin has been received. His writings, imperfect and fragmentary though they are, have shown that it was not a natural defect of the French taste and imagination, that suffered no classics in the sphere of simple and hearty country life; and that, in the homes of educated and noble-souled châtelains, there could dwell as pure and wholesome family affections, as in an English home might afford a theme for the pen of a Wordsworth or a Cowper. It is this which has given French critics so much joy; for Guérin, with his unaffected love of nature, his openness to its moods and aspects, though a prosewriter, is essentially a poet. His poet-nature would be disputed by few; and hence his countrymen can appeal to him, when French taste and French naturalness and simplicity are called in question.

It is this reservation which, while allowing Guérin all merited honors, must be borne in mind, when one reads the somewhat exaggerated notice by Mr. Arnold. Maurice de Guérin has certainly "distinction; " he possesses some rare qualities: "there is much to be gained from his book for poetry, much for the elevation of the soul, and much for the contemplation of nature." But, though he has distinction, he is not pre-eminently distinct from others. What qualities he has, he shares with many of our English writers; and, though he is well

worthy, judged only by the promise he showed, to take his place by their side, yet he does not surpass them: he may be their equal, but he is not their superior. Even limiting his specialty to what Sainte-Beuve in another Essay restricts it,"to the sentiment, not so much of details, as of the sacred ensemble and universality of nature; a sentiment of the origin of things and the sovereign principle of life," yet no one would say, that, even compared with sole reference to this capacity, he surpasses Wordsworth or Keats; and, if you prefer to find his power, as most readers will, in the minute descriptions of the external world, there are pages of Cowper, both in prose and in poetry, equal to what Guérin has written. And, even looking away from the great models of poetry, and confining our comparisons to our own land, there are touches in Hawthorne's writings which equally proclaim the master, and which equally show a mind open to whatever aspect nature may put on. The extracts from his Diary, lately published in the "Atlantic Monthly," are the writings which, in this respect, most nearly resemble Guérin's; and the relative powers of the two artists, as exhibited in lines equally private and equally unintended for publication, admit of curious comparison. Making all the allowance that maturity and immaturity of powers may demand, it will be seen that both the writers are artists, and that both enjoyed gifts differing very little in quality.

The second point to which we would direct attention is the state of Guérin's moral constitution during the time noted by the Journal, or at least until the period when Guérin left M. de La Mennais' care, and had hanging over him the necessity of moving out of his seclusion, and solving the problem of the sphere of his faculties, and the course to be taken for their development. For somewhat more than the first year which this Journal records, and hence for the whole of Guérin's previous life, one stage of which we see end and another begin in these pages, he was like those sea-weeds which he somewhere describes, sending down their tendrils into the water that supports them, and from which they draw their sustenance, while yet they have no fixed root, and are driven along at the mercy

of the waves. Moral powerMoral power-will, the faculty of separating one's self from disturbing accidents and living in a world of calm, holding one's self well poised and collected - was unknown to him, and without ground in his experience. He was conscious of this defect; and he displays, in the analysis of those of his feelings which relate to it, all that keenness and accuracy of observation which we perceive in his descriptions of outward nature. And hence, when you read his Journal and find his inner self there portrayed, you see that you have before you a being without moral energy, and yet of so full sympathy with the life of birds and beasts and the fashions of the earth and sky, that he appears to be but a part of nature, and you can almost understand what he means, when he talks of "that mysterious breath that pervades all intelligences." And when you analyze, with what power you can, your own disposition, you feel that you, too, have something in you that connects you with lower forms of life. You almost doubt whether your superiority to the brute is so absolute as you have imagined. You are led to reason from one case to all, and to suspect that the moral nature in man is not fixed and perfect through all periods of his life, but that it grows with his growth; and that, coming forth from the sensuous and unreflecting life of childhood or brutehood, it increases with more or less success, and in different individuals with dif ferent degrees of development. Thus Guérin leads you to think, that, if to many men there were given as great a power of self-examination as he possessed, there might be discovered many of the now missing links between the brute and the human creation; that thus the moral nature might be exhibited in its growth, and a more perfect harmony and development be manifested in the different orders of living beings. And Guérin, by his want of will and his subjection to that emotional and sensitive part of his nature, which for so many years held authority over him, seems himself to be one of those links binding us to lower forms of life by our feelings and our passions, but uniting us to higher forms by our possibilities of progress. And it is not long, in fact, before you see the germs of a will and of a moral energy starting up in him, and mani

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