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are, however, certain privileged natures in which this element becomes paramount in virtue of its own might, and in a sort of normal state ; whilst in others it is stifled, and even utterly destroyed, owing to certain hostile influences, or from want of air and nutriment.
Such was certainly not the case with the future historian of Christian art. At the time of his carly childhood, Napoleon had just concluded the Concordat, and was restoring the Church, -a fact which alone would have made his name popular throughout Britanny.
Now let any one imagine, says M. Rio, an iconoclastic government prohibiting, on the most atrocious penalties, any manifestation of what they were pleased to call the people's credulity; and then all of a sudden, after eight long years of moral tortures and spiritual dearth, this same people recovering their right to pray together in the same building, and explaining to little children what was meant by the House of God, wherein they had never entered before that day ;-why the altars were ruined, why the crowil venerated certain images. L'nder such circumstances it is easy to understand how a real craving for a public worship may become a downright passion, and even a passion lording it over every other. It is easy, likewise, to understand the enormous advantage of inaugurating, under such auspices, the intellectual, religious, and aesthetical education of a child.
Such iras certainly the first education he received at home, and continued at Vannes, under the guidance of some remarkable priests, belonging to the clergy of the ancien régime. The child grew up into a stripling, whilst Napoleon became, in his turn, a persecutor of the Pope and an oppressor of men by his savage conscription, which threatened to drain the country of its best blood. Then came the stirring events of 1814, the Hundred Days, and the final overthrow of the great conqueror. And here M. Rii gives us a most interesting account of a guerilla warfare, undertaker and carried on for three months, by three hundred of those Breton schoolboys, himself acting as their captain. They had their strategic marches, and their battles fought and won, and their reverses manfully supported, until came that tremendous battle of Waterloo, which put an end alike to their Lilliputian enterprise and to the gigantic cmpire. Many a bright vision of future glory and success filled the fiearts of those chivalrous youths, and well might it be so, when royalty itself condescended to commend their valour, and to reward their juvenile commander by bestowing upon him the Legion of Honour. But after all, these marks of royal favour were but bubbles, vanishing into air, and M. Rio soon found himself obliged to cope with the stern realities of life. Froin Vannes, where he held for a short time the post of professor in the city grammar school, he was called to Paris, with some
hopes of preferment in the alma mater. Here again he was baffled for a time, and obliged to fall back upon a provincial Lycée ; but the youth being endowed with both energy and pluck, he managed to return to the capital under more favourable circumstances. One of his friends at Rennes, an Abbé Le Priol, had advised him to study German literature,-a most useful piece of advice at a time when the latter was universally unknown to Frenchmen. The
young Rio turned it to good account, and thus opened a new field of exploration as to his own studies ; so that, being likewise patronized by certain persons of mark belonging to the Royalist party, he gained admittance to what was called La Société des Bonnes Lettres. This was a sort of debating society, at the head of which shone Chateaubriand as president, and many members of the French Institute ranked among its members. On certain days, they gathered around them a select audience, to which they gave public lectures. The questions mooted in these mectings were often of a semi-literary, semi-political character, and many a hot contest, carried on with indomitable steadfastness in the Parisian press of that day, might be traced back to the polite and learned gatherings of the Société des Bonnes Lettres. It was held in high esteem; the very fact of being a member became a title to consideration, --a godsend to a young man, just beginning the battle of life, and so it was indeed for M. Rio.
Now there was at that time a question which rang throughout Europe ; the question between the Greeks and their Mussulman rulers. We are not expressing any opinion of our own on this question; but it is necessary for our own purpose to explain that M. Rio warmly advocated the cause of the Greeks. In doing this, he resolved to treat his subject in a manner quite new to his hearers,—to open before them a track hitherto totally untrodden, at least in France.
What are the patent or occult causes which contribute to the rise and fall of the fine arts in any nation ? Are they permanent or casual, irresistible like a natural force, or may they be eluded, warded off like so many other contingent evils? Such was the problem which he endeavoured to solve, and which required on his part an unusual amount of historical erudition by way of illustration. The task was full of peril ; but, fortunately, he was supported by the ardent sympathy men felt in those times for the Greeks. They were delighted to hear him extol in high terms the services rendered by the latter to civilization in its most exalted meaning, and point out the conquests they had made in the realms of the Beautiful, --conquests glorious above all others, since no other nation had done the same, nor had contributed in such a degree to fulfil a providential mission in this world. “Thus," added M. Rio, on concluding his first lecture, “the question of the fine ar
supersedes frequently the testimony of peoples, and, according to a very just remark, when man remains silent the very stones are no more dumb. Thus, again, the fine arts serve as auxiliaries to history, or rather they are history itself written in large characters. They preserve the living images of all that is most dear to mankind, and they may contribute to inaugurate within the walls of our temples a new era of public liberty.'
We have purposely dwelt at some length on our author's first expression of his own views on this subject, because it is the corner-stone, as it were, of the whole fabric. Any one familiar with his great work on “ Christian Art in Italy” will at once sec how faithfully he adheres throughout to this primitive idea, -hom constantly he elucidates the progress and decline of the Italian schools by the clironicles of the times, and what intense interest his narrative often derives from the deep influence exerted by religious or political events over the most eminent artists who lived among them. Surely, such a novel system of illustration, and bearing so immediately on the subject matter, descrved something diore than a casual notice.
After all, the youthful professor had established himself on solid ground, and succeeded in securing the sympathy of his somewhat dainty andience, notwithstanding the dangerous neighbourhood of stars of more dazzling radiance. For two or three years he continued to develop a series of positions, bearing at once upon history and æsthetics. His name became popular in the press, and every paper of any note deemed it proper to notice his lectures. At this juncture the Government, incensed at the increasing violence of the Opposition, endeavonred to curb it by the establishment of a censorship over journalism, and bestowed the office of censor on M. Rio. "He refused on the score of principle,--a fact which, of coursc, enhanced his popularity. As the celebrated Cuvier had been likerise appointed to the same functions, and followed the example of his juvenile colleague, their names were coupled together, in circumstance by no means unfavourable to the latter. Chateaubriand again mentioned him with due honour in one of his grandiloquent pamphlets; whilst a young stripling, then at school, but destined to world-wide fame, Charles de Montalembert, sent him a letter of congratulation upon his refusal. It is so characteristic of the man, that we cannot refrain froin quoting it :-
“ Mme. Davidoff has just informed me, my dear M. Rio, how nobly you have acted in the late affair. Allow me, as a friend, to congratulate you ; as it Frenchman, to show you my gratitude. Instead of a few paltry advantages you might have acquired in regard to fortune by this degrading office, you have conquered the esteem of all France, who, thank God, stands quite aloof from those by whom she is governed. Your acceptance would have been a downright perversion."
Whilst treating these matters before a select public, M. Rio prepared a publication on “ The Human Mind in Antiquity.” The title was somewhat ambitious; but as he was enabled to fall back on the friendly advice and co-operation of Letronne, Abel Remusat, Burnouf, and even Cuvier himself, his wor rould probably have made its mark, had not the events of 1830 turned the minds of men towards more absorbing subjects. Cuvier, who was a Protestant, and a real believer in Divine revelation, was particularly struck with an opinion barely laid down by the young writer, probably reserving for a future occasion to establish its demonstration." Inspiration in the fine arts,” he said, “ever became weaker and weaker, until it totally disappeared, in the same proportion as the positive sciences went on expanding and acquiring perfection.” The keen mind of Cuvier casily perceived the close connection that existed between this barely historical thesis and a question of far higher import, which was constantly at the bottom of his thoughts. He felt deep apprehension at the bitter hostility manifested by many scientific men against all revealed religion. From this very fact he had concluded, but he wished to see it proved historically, that what is now called positive science falls short of its aim in regard to completeness, by rejecting every source of certitude which does not rest on scientific demonstration, thus inutilating the noblest faculties of man. Ilence the deep interest he took in M. Rio's researches, and the unfailing kindness he never ceased to show him. But, as we said above, the work itself fell upon a now indifferent public, though the author's reputation was greatly increased by the patronage of so many eminent men.
was just at this period of his life that he was called by V. De la Ferronnays, then Minister for l'oreign Affairs, to a confidential post near his person. Throughout M. Rio's Memoirs there breathes from first to last a deep feeling of reverence and attachment to that remarkable man. Those who are familiar with the "Récits d'une Sæur” well know how truly he deserved such a feeling ; but we do not scruple to assert that, in order to become thoroughly acquainted with the Count's character, it will be henceforward indispensable to read the pages M. Rio has devoted to his former friend. There was a singular and most pleasing blending of Christian humility and innate dignity in that nobleman's nature. "The very first craving of my soul,” said lie, one day, “is to stand crect, even before an enemy. I believe I should die, were any living man to deem himself cntitled to make me lower my eyes. In these feis pithy words we have the whole man. All around him were those children, Albert, Engine, and Alexandrine, whose very names are now become unto us like "household words.” Is it astonishing that in a short time our young Breton came to consider his benefactor's family as his own?
Count de la Ferronnays remained at the head of his department for a period of two years, when he was superseded by the Polignac Cabinet, which proved so fatal to the fortunes of his royal master. But whilst he held the Foreign Office, the Cabinet to which he belonged adopted a measure of a most serious character, the more so, indeed, that it was in itself an act of injustice. Party spirit ran very high in France, and the ministers, with a view of satisfying the liberal Opposition, had resolved to expel the Jesuits from the country. They held, as now, a large number of schools, in which Catholic families relied for the religious and moral education of their children. This was a great cyesore to the infidel University, then endowed by law with the monopoly of exclusively educating the whole youth of the kingdom. Ilow Charles X. came to sign, in 1828, the famous ordinance for the dispersion of the Jesuits, God alone can tell ; but, however, so
Count de la Ferronnays was an émigré of the old stock ; but, unlike many of his exiled brethren, he never entertained those relaxed opinions in religious matters which so generally distinguished them. There was not the slightest grain of flippancy in his nature ; and though, as yet, not a practising Catholic, he showed deep respect for everything concerning religion. The most distant approach to persecution of it he abhorred, and in the present case he felt that there was something unlawful about the matter. We may well imagine his perplexity on finding himself obliged either to incur the responsibility of the decree, as a member of the Cabinet, or to send in his resignation, which might be considered as an act of opposition to a monarch for whom he would readily have forfeited his life. In his anxiety to ascertain what was really right or wrong in the present case, he adopted a most extraordinary course, as M. Rio's graphic account will show :-
Before coming to any determination he appealed to a man invested with the sacerdotal character (we believe him to have been a Jesuit), and whose well-known principles placed him beyond even the suspicion of conniving with those who were preparing to overthrow the whole order by striking at a few of its members. In one word, he was a priest, and a most scrupulous priest, who thus became an umpire between the two opinions, one of which M. de la Ferronnays was to adopt, and which divided alike the Chambers and the cabinet.
I should consider it as an act of impardonable temerity on my part to relate here even in an approximative account what really took place between the two speakers, both of whom, in such a solemn moment, anxiously felt the weight of their mutual responsibility. But what I may affirm is, that on one side there were several repeated appeals to the conscience and superior knowledge of the other, and that at certain moments there were several intervals of a most torturing silence, to which a sort of supernatural inspiration seemed alone capable of putting an end. The more M. de la Ferronnays endeavoured