Page images

posing, by degrees, an immense poem Harmonies, the Souvenirs of his be

-a poem of nature, of life, of the loved mother and of his dear “natal history of man, “ Babylone Inconnue Milly" - with all the rich and varied et Mystérieuse;" and to this he devotes colourings which belong to all his poea portion of his leisure hours at Saint tical compositions, and must follow Point in Burgundy. He has detached De Lamartine into the busy arena of from this poem, and published sepa- public and political life. And yet, rately, Jocelyn, and La Chute d'un though we part from him with regret, Ange. The object of the poet, in thus associated and thus endeared to his great poem, of which these are the lovers of humanity and of rational but fragments, is to paint the deve- and virtuous progress, we, at the same lopement of the human race; societies time, know we shall have no reason first formed by God; their existence; to be ashamed of him as we follow him the reign of vice, and the triumph of into such different scenes as the Cham. matter over spirit; the vengeance of ber of Deputies and the general counGod at the deluge; the patriarchal cils of his department. There we era ; the recomposed family of man; shall find him good and useful, true the history of the Jews; the history of and tasteful, faithful to his heart, but the Bible; the change of the written yet never forgetful of the great truth, for the unwritten law of God; the that the law of progress is the law of new world as opposed to the old ; and nature. At the same time, we know the Cross, the standard of a new civic beforehand that we shall find him palization. Then the conflicts of Chris. tient, laborious, willing to wait for tianity and her triumphs. Then the time, for prejudice, for education, for establishment of Paganism as the reli. vested rights and interests, and for the gion of ruins. Then the fall of the workings, gradual and sometimes im. Roman empire-the conquering Si perceptible as they are, of nature and of cambrian, the Hun, the curse of God God. This feature of his character is the Latin slave—the Greek sophist so well delineated in the following ex. and then new societies based on ideas, tract from his first speech on the Abo. not on facts, on opinions and experi. lition of the Penalty of Death, that we ments, and not on the laws of God. extract it with double pleasure. Then the history of the Romish Church (of course to be written with a friendly

“ Long temps avant qu'une legislation hand)--and then the present state of P!

te of puisse formuler en loi une conviction sohuman societies, with the combats of

of ciale, il est permis aux philosophes de la philosophy and infidelity. Twelve

discuter. Le legislateur est patient parce

qu'il ne doit pas se tromper : son erreur fragments will constitute the poem.

retombe sur la société tout entière. On We, as yet, have but two-Jocelyn,

peut tuer une société à coups de principes and La Chute d'un Ange.

et de vérités comme on la sape avec l'er. With various defects of rhyme,

reur et le crime. Ne l'oublions jamais, measure, and even of language, the

ne nous irritons pas contre les timides last of the two is a splendid poem ; lenteurs de l'application. Tenons compte and the loves of Adam and Eve in au temps de ses mæeurs, de ses habitudes, Paradise Lost, have, unquestionably, de ses préjugés même : songeons que la their rival in those of Daidha and of société est une œuvre traditionnelle ou Cedar.

tout se tient ; qu'il n'y faut porter la main It is a very singular fact, that as on qu'avec scruple et tremblement, que des the day when De Lamartine lost millions de vies, de propriétés, de droits, his mother, he was named member of reposent à l'ombre de ce vaste et secuthe French Academy - so on that on laire édifice, et qu'une pierre detachée which he was deprived of bis Julia, he avant l'heure, peut écraser des generations was named deputy.

dans sa chute. Notre devoir est d'ectairer And here we must bid adieu to the la société, non de la maudire. Celui qui schoolboy of Bellay, to the student of la maudit ne la comprend pas. La plus Italy, to the ardent lover in Savoy,

sublime théorie sociale que enseignerait to the father of Alphonse and of Julia,

à mépriser la loi et à se révolter contre

elle, serait moins profitable au monde que bereft of both his children ; to the

le respect et l'obeissance, que le citoyen wanderer in Syria, the poet of the

doit même à ce que le philosophe conmountains, the painter of life, and

damne." rural and domestic scenery, to the author of the Meditations and the This is indeed true conservatism

this is indeed true philosophy - and dynastic affections, but justice, truth, and let those who admire De Lamartine as the permanent interests of the country. a poet and a writer, now accompany He is a man who does not attach more us in our examination of him as a importance to forms of government than politician and a statesman.

they really merit, who believes that the De LAMARTINE the politician, is a human race is progressing by various roads, royalist ; attached to the old dynasty and under divers banners, towards that of the Bourbons ; averse to the influ

improvement and moralization to which ence of the Jesuits, or ultra-priest

the hand of God is leading it. A man of party, in the affairs of the state ; a

the social party is one who believes that li. friend to rational liberty; an admirer

berty can be enjoyed under monarchies, and

order under republics ; that no one should of the old English constitution as a wise political union of power and

devote himself exclusively to any govern

ment, because all governments may fail ;' freedom, of submission and rule; and

and who considers governments as instrua lover of gradual progress, and wise

ments of civilisation, of which it is neces. and well-digested reforms. We do

sary to make use, in order to advance the not think, however, that we can better happiness of society. He thinks that it is introduce his political opinions to our

better to bend governments than to break readers than by his able and eloquent them; he loves liberty because it is the Profession of Faith. It was address- moral dignity of man; he loves equality, ed to the electors of Bergues, on occa. because it is justice ; he loves and respects sion of his re-election in that arrondisse. social power, because social power is the ment.

most powerful lever that God has given to “I am not,” said De Lamartine, "a human societies to act on themselves, and party man-neither out and out Ministe. to raise them to him. rial on the one hand, nor a systematic “Such a man, when the suffrages of member of the Opposition on the other, his fellow-citizens send him to be a memParties die-Ministers commit faults- ber of the legislative corps, does not exa. systematic oppositions become useless, or mine by what hand a projected law is prepetrified. I endeavour to act on higher sented to him, but he examines the proprinciples--I seek to rise to the elevation jected law itself, and if he regards it as of religion, of truth, of impartiality, of good, he does not call it bad; and if he political morality. I do all I can to be a finds it just, he does not say it is iniqui. social man.

tous,—he votes for it. “But men of violent party feelings and “ Such a man does not accept power passions will say to you, ' What is a sociul or place, because he is, on the contrary, man? What matters it to us that he be the judge of those who do. He keeps a social man? What help will such a man himself separated from factions--because afford to this or to that party in the Cham- he combats them. ber? Will he vote with the left or with " Such a man does not aspire to play the right? with the tiers-parli or with the a part in the fugitive drama of those who centre ? Is he popular with such and such renounce all to gratify their ambition of a coterie, and has he the patronage of this the palace or of the tribune. In public or of that journal? Is he devoted to one life he acts on the conscientious principles of the three or four Parliamentary men, which guide him in his private career. whose names serve as symbols of doctrines, He approves or he condemns in the name or as the rallying words for intrigues, and of his constituents. who make France look small and con. “When a man thus acts alone, he is temptible by their sterile and merely the only independent man; for he is not personal rivalry?'

only independent of governments, but he “No:-a man of the social party-a is also independent of the opposition itsocial man in politics, has nothing to do self. Thus it is that governments suspect with any thing of this sort. He appre him, and that all men of the opposition ciates parties too well to serve them. He calumniate him. This might be expected. will not degrade either his mind or his “And, nevertheless, such a man, whatcountry to a level with their contemptible ever may be his impatience to see governtrivialities. He leaves to ambitious men ments abandon the prejudices and old this arena. He will not consent to be a beaten route of centuries-to quit their man of the mere day—but he will be a egotism and devote themselves more man of his epoch.

frankiy to the regeneration of public af“ A social man, or man of the social fairs, to political charity towards the peoparty, is he who takes for the basis of his ple, to a rational reform of real opprespolicy, not the moveable and uncertain sion, and to the repression of social soil of prejudices, passions, hatreds, or iniquities- still never does he encourage

the overthrow of governments, for no man ber, whilst its able and accomplished of sense, much more a good man, will do chief is a member of the Legitimist that which tends to anarchy. He knows circles. If M. De Lamartine should that governments are to people what disci. ultimately succeed in forming a powerpline is to armies. Without discipline it ful party in the Chamber of Deputies, is possible to vanquish, but quite impossible

composed of men belonging to all facto organize. Such a man, then, is at once

tions in the House, of course being sincerely progressive, whilst he is energeli

men all loving order as well as libercally conservative."

ty, and moderation and peace as well This is very beautiful, philosophi- as improvement-we think that party cal, statesmanlike, and conservative, would, in time, necessarily become a whilst it is truly liberal and largely political party too--and must, in order generous. De Lamartine has well to help forward as much as possible understood the moral and political their own social theories and systems, situation of his own country; and the declare themselves a political body, and decision he has come to as to the line aspire to power, not for the love of of conduct he shall pursue, demon- office, but expressly to lend the addistrates that he has felt that conserva- tional weight and authority they would tism in France is not priestcraft. thereby obtain to the extension of that

Of the “social party" in France, which they believe to be right. Isolaof which De Lamartine is the elegant tion is rarely ever beneficial -- and and accomplished chief, it is now ne. though party has been defined to be cessary for us to speak. We are far “the madness of many, for the gain of from adopting all their opinions, far a few"-yet all truly great measures from approving all their measures, under constitutional governments, must and far from enlisting with all who necessarily be carried by parties. belong to that party, as we think that The social party in France (for some of them are too prominent in after all, it is a party) is composed of what they term “ liberalism," heartily men of education and of unquestionto associate with such men as De La. able talent. Some of them belong to martine. But still it must be admitted the old families of France—others date that there are great and powerful their ancestry no further back than to men in the party, and above all, that the period of the First Revolution. they have effected real good.

- Most of them are men of fortune and How far, indeed, it be possible for leisure, and who have the disposition, a public man, and, above all, for a as well as the time, to attend to the French deputy, to abstain from voting moral improvement of their species. and acting, on many occasions, with a Most of them belong to a society which party as a party, and yet to preserve has now existed several years, and his influence-and yet to secure the which bears the honoured title of “ La triumph of right-and yet to act on Société de la Morale Chrétienne." The the one hand independently, and on avowed object of this institution is, if the other hand influentially, so that not to regenerate, at least to ameliohis vote may not be sterile, and his rate, by the influence of Christian movoice may not be lost, we confess we rals, the human race; and to repair or doubt ; unless, indeed, the social party diminish the evils which result from shall become numerous enough to the constitution of modern society. form a party by itself, or at least a This institution is organized into comsection in the Chambers. In that case, mittees, the titles of which will alone the social party might, if it thought fit, show the character of the association, examine all questions brought before and the objects proposed to be accomit, solely with reference to certain plished. Indigence, deserted children, established rules and principles laid prisons, capital punishments, slavery down by itself, with which, as a sort these are some of the sad subjecis of test, it would try whether such and of their consideration and study-and such a measure ought or ought not to there are permanent committees who be supported, because it had or had regularly attend to these most importnot a civilizing or social tendency. ant matters. After having contributed, But whatever might be done in such a by its multiplied solicitations, to the case, it is undoubtedly a fact now, that suppression of gambling-houses and the social party in France belongs to lotteries, the society is to-day engaged various political parties in the Cham. in attacking that spirit of " Agiotage,"

or gambling in commercial shares, lings, however, has compelled the Gostocks, and Government securities, vernment to look to the question of which is, in France, extending itself to " what is to be done to diminish this every species of commercial operation, growing charge on the resources of the and threatens to render that country state?" It has accordingly been decided one vast gaming-house. It has offers that in order to induce in the mothers of ed a prize of 600 francs to the author illegitimate children a greater degree of the best treatise on this subject, es- of anxiety as to the fate of their offpecially as to the most efficacious spring-and, in order thus to lead means to be adopted for the supres them not to expose their new-born sion of this spirit, and it has made an babes to premature death, by leaving appeal to all heads of families, and to them, for hour after hour, at the doors the chiefs of all greatestablishments, to of the foundling institutions before they aid it in this praiseworthy effort. This can be taken in, that the chiefs of those society also maintains eighty-three or institutions shall much less frequently phans, who are tanght useful trades, than before, examine the boxes into and receive an education suited to their which new-born children are deposited, probable future situations in life. De thus rendering it possible that they Lamartine is an active member of this should there perish for want of care society, and has frequently aided, by and attention. This experiment was his manly and persuasive eloquence, intended as a moral appeal to materin the attainment of those objects nal affections and maternal solicitude. which the institution has most at heart. Has it succeeded ? No! It has proThe abolition of the penalty of death, duced but tuo results ; Ist, That except in cases of murder, is one of the infanticide has increased ; and, 2d, favourite subjects of this society. So That the infants, when received into is the gradual abolition of slavery in the foundling asylum, have died in the French colonies. The questions the proportion of 70 and 80 out of of duelling, suicide, infanticide, child 100, including those found dead desertion, and the increase of illegiti. in the boxes of the asylums, at the mate children in France, also, one after doors, and who perished from cold or the other, receive the attention of the from hunger. De Lamartine foresaw conductors of this admirable society; this. He protested against expecting and, although it must be admitted that that this sort of moral appeal to the hitherto their efforts to diminish these mothers of illegitimate children in crimes have not been attended with all France would have any effect upon the success which might have been de. them. He maintained that in but a very sired, yet, the very fact that an en- few cases would the mothers of ille. lightened body of French gentlemen gitimate children, at any rate, be deteroccupy their time and attention with red from carrying their intants to'the these subjects, is of itself a source of gates of these asylums, from the circonsolation and hope.

cumstance of their pot being opened so The question of “ FOUNDLINGS” is frequently as before. He said " Noone of immense importance to France the only conseqnences will be that the

-especially to Paris, and to other children will be left in solitary streets, large cities and towns in that country to the mercy of the casual passer-by Although in our own country the or that the mothers will commit incrime of child desertion is not rare, fanticide-or, finally, that they will in France it is ten times, at least, not seek to hide their shame and dis. more frequent. There the mother grace, and will become flagrant and of an illegitimate child has no legal public prostitutes." The experiment claim whatever on its father ; and, which has been made, has confirmed as in twenty-nine out of thirty cases, fully the opinion of De Lamartine. as soon as she becomes enceinte, her Not only illegitimate, but legitimate seducer deserts her, she is tempted to children also, abandoned as foundlings, relieve herself from the charge on her have increased, instead of diminishing future means of subsistence, by caus -and, though fewer infants have lived ing the new-born infant to be taken to than before, when received into the the door, or to the box, of those found Hospice, yet is it not a sort of legal as ling institutions which existin the cities well as practical infanticide, on the and large towns of France. The in- part of the Government as well as of crease, the alarming increase, of found. the mother, thus to allow helpless and innocent infants of a span long to die Its signs are noted and copied down : at the very gates of the institutions ? a name is affixed to it: its clothes are

But what is to be done ? asks the even marked with its initials--and once man whose moral impatience does him a month, or oftener, the mother will go credit, and who cannot believe but that to the “ Hospice" and see her publicly there is some remedy for all the evils fed and nourished offspring. At length, which afflict humanity. We answer, however, it is removed into the Dethat the one great remedy for all such partments, and placed with one of the evils is moral and religious education. country nurses of the Foundling HogThis remedy does not exist in France, pital. But what does its mother do? and until it shall do so, all other plans She corresponds occasionally with the will be of a temporizing and ineffi. nurse--sees the child when it is brought cacious character. The abolition of up periodically to Paris, and remunerFoundling Hospitals altogether, has ates in some degree, the hospital nurse, sometimes been suggested in France; if she has been particularly attentive but then what would be the conse. to the health and wants of that child. quence? Why, that infanticide would This state of things has led to another increase to a most awful extent. Others evil. Parents of poor but large fami. have proposed that the mothers of ille, lies, (and sometimes of small ones too). gitimate children should have a legal aware that they could thus get rid of claim on the fathers of those children supporting their offspring, without diffor the support of their offspring. This ficulty, and even without much anxiwould lead to an extent of perjury on ety or reproach, now make it a comthe part of the mothers, who would mon practice in large cities and towns take false oaths against individuals of of thus disposing, for some years, of, at fortune and family, merely, for the pur any rate, some of their children, and pose of obtaining ample means of living, the state is thus burdened with the sup. or of satisfying their vengeance or port of a vast number of human beings, animosity, which cannot be contempla, the support of whom ought really not ted without apprehension and horror. to fall upon it. Independent of this Others have gone further than this, and crying evil, parental feelings become have proposed to make the abandon. less acute, filial affection less lively, ment of children a crime, and as great domestic attachments more rare, and the a crime as infanticide ; but no French heads of poor families, instead of find. legislature could now be found to pass ing their greatest earthly sources of such a law, And, finally, others have consolation and happiness in their offinsisted, that the mothers and fathers spring, only view them as the unfortuof illegitimate children should be treat. nate results of marriage and of legal ed as offenders against society, and be cohabitation. Thus, the kindest and punished by fine and imprisonment. tenderest feelings and ties of life are This would not, however, have any blunted ; thus, the institution of marother effect, even could such a law re- riage is degraded, instead of being raisceive the sanction of a French legis. ed ; and thus the social bonds of so. lature, than that of increasing infanti. ciety are torn asunder, and the purest cide, as the effectual means of getting and best alliances of our nature derid of the only physical evil which the prived of a large portion of their charm state would have to apprehend from and their interest. promiscuous intercourse, viz. the hav. To meet this state of things, it has ing to support the offspring of those il been said, “ Let us remove the chil. legitimate unions. None of these, nor dren from their nurses, and place them all of these plans together, would then in other hands more frequently. Let suffice.

no notice be taken of the signs and And, besides this, it must not be lost names, initials and marks, affixed to sight of, that although, undoubtedly, a the infant's clothes, &c., when left at great proportion of French foundlings the door of the Foundling Hospital. are illegitimate children, a vast num. Let no facilities be afforded to the paber are not so, but are the offspring of rents to see their children. Let it be legal marriages. A mother of a large rendered next to impossible for the family in France will not only think it nurse to take any interest in the child, no crime, but will scarcely conceal the or the child to begin to love the nurse, fact, of sending her new-born infant to from those frequent changes. Let the the doors of the Foundling Hospital. child be one year in the department of

« PreviousContinue »