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hackneyed opinions of the day. According to our humble view of the matter, Rumolir did more for Rio's aesthetical education than all the high-flown notions of Schelling and his disciples put together. We believe that he himself would hardly controvert our assertion.
We have named France, and in the eyes of many this may appear somewhat paradoxical. Of all European nations, England excepted, France is perhaps the one which entertains the lowest conception of the beautiful in the arts of design. Take her different schools from the close of the sixteenth century down to our own times, and you may trace throughout all their productions soinething high and dry, a certain stiffness reminding one of the strict etiquette which prevailed at the court of Louis the Fourteenth, rather than of those meek, scientific, angelic forms that grace go many Italian or Spanish pictures of the golden age. The very Italian artists, who were called up from their own country by the Valois, or the first Bourbon monarchs, seem to have undergone a change of mind when transferred to the banks of the Scinc. Nicholas Poussin, Philip de Champagne, and others, all bear more or less this stamp of sameness and dryness ; Lesueur alone would perhaps form an exception in his inimitable life of S. Bruno, and it must be remembered that he laboured among the Carthusian monks, in whose society he would daily reap an ample stock of legendary lore. Now what a perennial source of inspiration were the medieval legends to the Transalpine artists. How much a Giotto, or a Fra Angelico, or a Francia, or Raphael himself, or again the Umbrian and Ventian schools have learnt by them! How truly lovely, heavenly, ethereal are those Madonnas, Bambini, and saintly personages that surround them! On looking at them your very soul is moved sometimes to tears ; how is it that nothing of the same character ever strikes us in a French painting of the best masters ? Correctness of design, an elaborate disposition of the groups in accordance with the technical rules, a sober, yet vivid colouring, all essentials are there ; but the feeling, the je ne sais quoi, which urges you to fall down and pray, where is it? Altogether French pictures remind one down to very lately of statuary, and it is a remarkable fact that one of their great reformers, David, brings forth this fault in strong relief in every one of his pictures.
There seems, therefore, to have been hitherto a want of real æsthetical feeling, in its highest sense, among our neighbours, and if a reaction has set in of late years, most perceptible in the productions of Orset, Perrin, and Hyppolite Flandrin, it is attributable first of all to the strong religious revulsion of the last five-and-twenty years; and, secondly, to the joint efforts of Rio, Montalembert, and Victor Hugo. But what was the real state of opinion in France,
VOL. XIX.-N0. XXXVIII. [New Series.]
when the young peer published his famous letter on Vandalism in the Fine Arts, we may judge from the fact that Rio's first volume fell dead upon the ear of the public, and well nigh discouraged him altogether. But Montalembert was not a man to be baffled by difficulties ; with the dash of a crusader he plunged headlong into the thickest of the fight, ever returning to the charge until the day was won, until the tide was turned. Few men have done more than Montalembert for the fine arts in France, though at that very time he was fighting for the liberties of the Church. “Don't stay at Munich," he used to write to his friend on that occasion ; “don't stand there hunting after the vagaries of a Baader or of a Schelling; come back here to fight out the good cause with us. You owe it as a duty to yourself and to your country.
Such were the fiery adjurations of the noble Count, and M. Rio was not the man to turn a deaf ear to them. It was as well for his future studies that he was thus recalled from the towering heights of German ideal to the practical, prosaic every day level of human life. It is dangerous to be too long soaring in the skies.
M. Rio had married an Englishwoman, and was now the happy father of two lovely little girls. There is nothing astonishing, therefore, that our language should have become in time as familiar to him as his own, nor that he should have made many prolonged residences in England. He was thus led by degrees to study our literature, with the special view of discovering its connection with the religious vicissitudes which England has undergone for the last three centuries. To many this peculiar point of view may appear strange; to others better acquainted with the annals of those times, they well know what a large share Catholicism has had in forming the mind of many of our old authors. At any rate the subject was attractive, and as M. Rio was then labouring under great discouragement in consequence of the utter failure of his first volume on Christian Art, it gave a new direction to his ideas. He was, besides, stimulated in his undertaking by his English friends—by Protestants even still more than by Catholics—so that when, after prosecuting his new researches for three years in Wales, the birthplace of his wife, he came up to London, every door was open to him, and he had free access to nearly every sort of information. The reader will likewise bear in mind that he still belonged to the diplomatic corps. And with these few words by way of explanation, we shall glance at soine of the eminent men whom he soon made his friends, and whose portraits he excels in painting from life. We select a few of them.
The man whom the Whigs agreed to consider as the most competent judge in history was Lord Macaulay, or rather Mr. Macaulay, for those two
appellations represent two very different phases of his literary career. The Macaulay of the first phase, the author of so many wonderful masterpieces published under the title of “Essays,” had spoken in his narrative of the famous Hastings trial so admirably of Burke (one of M. Rio's great heroes], that I felt almost quite as grateful for it as if he had rendered me a personal service. To this may be added, that whenever any one spoke in his presence of the atrocious measures adopted in England to extirpate Catholicism, he defended the victims with a degree of energy expressing something more than mere compassion. He then became really eloquent, far more indeed than in the House of Commons, where he as yet seldom rose to that height which one was entitled to demand of a man who, by his deep knowledge and splendid talents, seemed to concentrate in his own person every condition required for great parliamentary success.
No, it was not on such ground that Macaulay displayed the prodigious resources of his mind, but above all of his memory, it was in conversation. There he ruled as a master, nay, even as a despot, a fact not always pleasing to those who had already swayed, or aspired to sway, the same sceptre. As for myself, whose part was far more humble, and who found the delight of novelty in these dazzling extemporaneous effusions, I listened with an ecstasy founded partly on the abundance and à propos of the quotations by which he was prone to support his line of argument; and these quotations were not only borrowed from his favourite English poets whose compositions he seemed to know all by heart, but he likewise laid under contribution the works of classical antiquity. Indeed, if I recollect right, he was the first who gave me the spectacle which I met with so frequently afterwards at breakfast or dinners, of guests who, without being professional scholars, quoted Greek authors quite as freely as we do our French writers. It is well known that Lord Brougham, who was keenly sensitive as to the susceptibilities of his audiences, sometimes gave way to a similar license in some of the gravest parliamentary debates.
At any rate, I for one felt no fatigue at these luxuriant and extempore exhibitions of Mr. Macaulay ; I was but too happy to find in his appreciations, however diffuse they might be, a help to my own ignorance of a hundred little things concerning contemporary history, which were alluded to in my presence, but which I could not understand. There were, however, certain blanks in his mind, certain problems he could never solve, certain exalted doctrines to which his practical genius could not ascend, as was proved by the latter part of his literary career, when, as Lord Macaulay, he ceased to be a witty and conscientious critic to become an elegant but partial historian, thus satisfying at one and the same time the good taste and narrow prejudices of the majority of his readers.
It was a wonderful thing to see Hallam and Macaulay tilting against each other, on account of the efforts displayed by each of them to show the same qualities and advantages that distinguished his antagonist. This spectacle I enjoyed several times in the spring of 1839; but above all one morning at breakfast with the poet Samuel Rogers, who by no means liked his hospitality to be spoilt by noisy controversies. He was obliged, like myself, for a full hour to play the part of a mute, and this made him very fidgety against his
guests. I myself was all eyes and ears ; indeed, what I heard and saw left me such a lively impression, that I immediately wrote down as follows in my diary :“ Monday, May 15th. — Breakfasted this morning at Rogers's with
. Hallam and Macaulay. The whole time it was nothing else but a crossfire between the two rivals. They seemed to vie at saying the most in a short time; their volubility was something awful. Both were endowed with a prodigious memory, and a no less prodigious power of elocution ; so it was really difficult that the dialogue should degenerate into a general conversation. For a full hour the two illustrious speakers seemed ambitious of proving that on any given subject they were inexhaustible, even when most alien to a man of letters, such as the navy, uniforms, the police, civil law, &c. At last Rogers succeedeci in bringing them back from those highways and byways, and by degrees our little meeting became interesting. But in the course of time Macaulay once more regained possession of his sceptre, and I listened to him even with still greater attention than usual.
“ This is how I should sum up the impression he left upon my mind :-I should say of Macaulay that his overloaded memory stands very much in the way of his mind, which I allow to be quick and sound, but has no tendency to soar or to dig, all its motions being as it were horizontal. His manners and tone savour a little of the bar; he has got the conceited trick of breaking off his speech if only part of the audience are listening to him, and he will walk to the other end of the room, holding the thread of the conversation in his hands, and perfectly confident that no one will dare snatch it from him.* His eyes sparkle with wit, and the lower part of his forehead displays a very fine projection ; there is something more open, more kindly, than in that of Hallam, wherein you can trace keen wit in the eyes, still keener sarcasm in the upper lip ; but between the upper and lower part of the face there rises a most harsh muscle, forming a sort of barrier between both, and against that muscle every genial expansiveness, every irradiation, flowing either from the eyes or lips, seems to expire."
Our readers will readily adınit, we believe, that if Hallam and Macaulay displayed w.nderful powers in conversation, they had found a hearer full worthy of appreciating their talents. But we must hurry on to other figures, delineated with no less firmness and delicacy of pencil.
Here comes Thomas Carlyle, then only beginning to emerge from obscurity, and destined to remain yet, for a long time to come, totally unknown to a French public. He had particularly shocked M. Rio's sensitive conscience by the casy, off-hand way in which he absolves the crimes of the great Revolutionists. This feeling amounted to downright indignation on meeting with the following passage :- “ It is impossible to name any period in the history of France when the nation, as a body, suffered less than during the
* The above words stand in English in the original.
period called the Reign of Terror”: “an assumption so arbitrary and so insulting for the victims,” adds our author, “had left in my mind an aversion which I should have deemed incurable, had I not met the man who made it.”
Great, therefore, was his surprise when, instead of a ferocious Jacobin, he was brought face to face with a person of simple manners, his eyes beaming with kindness, and altogether showing a soul open to every tender emotion. On some of the most vital religious and political questions M. Rio found himself on common ground with Carlyle. Could this be the man who was represented as the friend and adviser of certain notorious revolutionists, such as Godefroi, Cavaignac, and Mazzini ? Yes, indeed ; so it was ; for shortly after their new acquaintance, he invited him to dine with the two personages. Think of what must have been the inward feelings of the young offspring of the old Chouan! However, he got over it by degrees, especially on becoming more intimate with the author of “Heroes and Hero Worship.” Besides, there was a certain latent originality, a certain fondness for the Ideal, which ever and anon burst forth in Carlyle's conversations; and we know how very congenial that turn of mind was always to that of our Frenchman ; so we soon find him inserting in his diary the following lines :
“ April 8, 1839.—Tho four hours I have just been passing with Carlyle may reckon among the best I have known in London. We entered deeply into many great subjects, the Crusades, Dante, the French Revolution, the religious future of Europe, of which he takes a more sunny view than I do, on account of his faith in the progress of mankind and the durability of Christianity. My objections, grounded on the decline of the highest of Christian virtues-humility--embarrassed him a little, precisely because he highly appreciates that virtue, which he admits to have been both better understood and practised in the Middle Age than at present. He professes the highest admiration for the Crusades and for Peter the Herniit, whom he curiously compares with Demosthenes. The former, said he, used to labour over his speeches to such a degree that they were said to smell of lamp oil, and then he went to declaim them on the seashore with pebbles in his mouth, leaving to posterity as the grand rule for an orator : Action, action, action. The latter issues forth from his cloister without any other preparation but fasting and prayer ; for the precept of the Athenian orator he substitutes another of far more power: Faith, faith, and faith. The first was doomed to see his eloquence vanquished and Philip lording it over Greece ; the second upheaved Europe by the sound of his voice, and rushed on to the deliverance of the Holy Land.
“ The short parallel he drew between Milton's Satan and Goethe's Mephistopheles was equally striking. Milton makes him a grand and interesting figure.--the most interesting, indeed, of all his herces, a personage who would