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after having been noble and serious in Academies of which it is composed the recital of great events. Never It being the turn for the Academy of would a poet have imagined to make Sciences to preside, M. Gay-Lussac his heroes so reasonable
as to be una- took the chair, and opened the meetble to take any active part in the ing by a discourse on the advantages events; and while incessantly agitated of the sciences. Though the subject by interests foreign to them, to oppose is by no means new, the learned Prenothing but the moderation of their sident was listened to with pleasure, character to all the agitations around and several passages, equally remarkthem. Heroes of this kind belong able for justness of thought and elemuch more to an age of sophisms, gance of expression, were much apthan to one where every thing was in plauded. action. Berthelemy made Anacharsis M. Sylvestre de Sacy read a report travel, in order to present a picture of on the competition for the prize foundthe manners and customs of Greece; ed by the late Comte de Volney. The Sismondi seems to have turned out object of this prize is “ to excite and Julia and Felix, merely that he might encourage every attempt to continue find an occasion to relate, in his way, the method invented by Comte Volwhat was passing between Chartres ney for transcribing the Asiatic lanand Orleans, and Orleans and Chartres, guages into European letters regularly while Clovis was meditating at Sois- organized.” sons how he might become King of The committee had invited the comFrance.
petitors to examine “ what are the But if the author is feeble in the means of realizing the plan of the tesromantic part of his work, as a histo- tator ; within what limits the applirian he has every advantage. The pic- cation of it should be circumscribed ; ture he gives of the court of Clovis has what direction should be given to the a fine effect; the various interests work; and finally, what are the prowhich crowded around that prince are bable results to be expected from it." well explained, and, what is better, Four Memoirs were addressed to the are put in action with much art and Academy of Sciences; two of them, by truth. The plunder of the town of two German authors, appeared equally Chartres by the barbarians; the ter- worthy of the prize, which was divided ror of the grandees between the ene- between them; one is M. Schever, my who is advancing and their revolt- keeper of the royal library at Munich, ed slaves, who considered that enemy and the other M. Schleiermacher, lias their deliverer ; the depopulation brarian at Darmstadt. of the country hurried on by the ab- M. Delombre succeeded M. de Sacy. sence of protecting laws, still more It was bis business to assign the prize than by the sword of the conqueror; founded by M. de Monthyon for the the despair of the laborious classes work most useful to morals; and lively wrought into rage; the effects that applause burst forth when he proclaimare the result of it: all these descrip- ed the name of Mad. Guizot, author of tions are interesting; and, though the L'Ecolier or Raoul et Victor, a novel style of the author wants animation in four volumes 12mo. The Academy and harmony, yet, as it is always clear was not less gallant towards another by the force of thought, it is read with lady, Mad. Belloe, author of the Bipleasure wherever it goes along with bliotheque de Famille, who received a the subject, whenever the author for- medal of encouragement. gets he is a philosopher and is merely After a discourse rather long, rather a narrator.
cold, rather dry, by M. Dupin, respectIf this work is successful, M. Sis- ing the influence of commerce on the mondi will probably fulfil the engage learning and civilization of modern ment he has made with the public, to nations, M. Quatremere de Quincy, delineate the picture of the private of the Academy of Fine Arts, amused manners of some other epochs of and instructed the audience by a disFrench history in some new novels. sertation full of ingenious reflections,
On the 24th of this month, the an- lively anecdotes, and happy sayings. niversary of the landing of Louis The dissertation turned on the reXVIII. at Calais, the Royal Institute ciprocal mistakes of painters and poets, held its annual meeting of the four caused either by the ignorance of what belongs in common to their respective went to Versailles, where, as soon as arts, or by the confusion of their pe- I arrived, I got into another and reculiar properties."
turned to Paris,-off again, and back as The meeting was terminated by a quick. Here is a written account of very fine Ode, recited by M. Raynou- my travels, you will find that I have ard, author of the tragedy of the been going about for six months, that Templiers, on the devotedness of Ma- I have travelled above a thousand lesherbes, one of the defenders of the leagues, have faithfully followed your unfortunate Louis XVI.
prescription, am in perfect health, and The subject of the prize founded by have never missed one opera or buffa!" Volney, which will be adiudged in the The Musée for the exhibition of the meeting of the 24th of April next year, productions of modern artists, after is “ the composition of an alphabet having been adjourned from one epoch fitted for the transcription of Hebrew, to another during a twelvemonth, was and all the languages derived from the opened on Thursday last at ten o'clock same source, including the literal in the morning. A considerable crowd Ethiopian, the Persian, Turkish, Are of amateurs and connoisseurs rushed menian, Sanscrite, and Chinese. This immediately into the vast saloons of alphabet must have for its basis the the Louvre, to examine, judge, critiRoman alphabet, the signs of which cise, praise, and admire the masterwill be multiplied by slight accessories, pieces of the artists, and, above all, to without their configuration being es- enjoy the satisfaction of being the first sentially altered; each sound must be to give their opinion of them. In this represented by a single sign, and each rout of spectators, in this hurlyburly sign reciprocally must be exclusively of divers opinions, expressed some, einployed in expressing a single sound. times with confident ignorance, someThe author will endeavour, as much times with wonderful sagacity, always as possible, to render the new alpha- with ardour, it is impossible to give het proper for transcribing at the same that decided attention to the grand time the orthography and the pro- compositions which adorn this exhinunciation of the above-mentioned bition that they deserve. All real Asiatic languages."
pleasures, and especially those derived The prize is a gold medal of 1200 from the fine arts, require a little refrancs (£50.) The Memoirs addressed flection, and cannot be judged with to the Academy must be written in precipitation. Almost all the inforFrench, and will not be received after mation, therefore, that I can venture the 15th of next January.
to give you at present concerning this The following anecdote is an ad- exhibition, amounts merely to some ditional proof, if any were wanting, topographical details concerning the how much the originality of our coun- saloons in which they are placed. The trymen has amused the Parisians:-An great difference of this exhibition and Englishman, who had fallen into a that of former years in this respect is, very bad state of health, was ordered that the great gallery of the Louvre by a celebrated French physician to has been preserved entire for the antravel for five or six months, and to go cient paintings; none of them have from 15 to 20 leagues every day if his been displaced or taken down. Thus strength permitted it. At the end of the public can enjoy at once the ansix months, the patient calls on his cient and the modern riches of this physician, who finds him in the most temple of the fine arts; the present flourishing state of health, and asks manner may be compared with the prehim where he comes from. “From ceding ones; and one may judge at once Versailles,” says the Englishman.— what is the progress and amelioration “ From Versailles !” replies the doctor. of art in some respects, what is its in“ Why, I told you to travel at least a feriority and decline in others. The thousand leagues.”—“I have obeyed greatest part of these modern paintyou punctually, and have travelled ings are placed in the galleries which over every one of them,” rejoined the look on the courts of the Louvre, and Englishman; “but as I like very much in that of the Grand Colonnade. It the restaurateurs at Paris, the French must be confessed, however, that this opera, and the Italian buffa, I made new arrangement is much more famy arrangements accordingly. Every vourable to the public than to the morning I set out in a carriage and artists. The light is infinitely better in the great gallery than in those which fine verses and brilliant epic passages are lighted from the courts of the were sufficient to form a good tragedy, Louvre. This difference, which is of the triumph of Mr Bis, the author of such great consequence to paintings, Attila, would be complete, and the is very striking.
French theatre would be enriched with The gallery of the colonnade is ter- another masterpiece. But if a tragic. minated by a magnificent stair-case, composition, to rise above mediocrity, which leads to the Saloon of Sculpture. must have a probable action, the proThis part of the exhibition is very in- gress of which, skilfully combined, teresting this year, not so much for presents an interest always increasing; the number of the productions, as for a principal character, well supported, their importance,
who, in his transports, and even in his As I have already said, I cannot pre- erimes, never excites contempt, nor sume to give an opinion of things which even that horrible pity inspired by I have only seen with a glance. But madness; a character, the effect of if I consult the public voice, which, which is rendered more prominent by however, I am far from considering as unaffected contrasts, then, indeed, we the vor dei, particularly with respect must declare that Mr Bis has remainto the fine arts, the exhibition has noted far from the point where the palm answered the public expectation, nor awaits the victor. His production is come up to the hope, which might be very imperfect, but he has shewn a justly entertained from the number of talent which gives well-founded hopes celebrated painters now flourishing in for the future; and the more so, as it France. There are but few produc- has quite an original colour, and seems tions of the great living masters. On perfectly free from the servitude of the other hand, there is an abundance imitation. of paintings in the style which the I must confine myself to a very raFrench call tableaux de guerre; do- pid analysis of this new Attila. mestic scenes, promenades en caleche, This formidable chief of the Huns popular caricatures, fairs, &c. and a las marched from victory to victory, handsome proportion of portraits of from the front of the Great Wall of ladies and gentlemen, whom nobody China, to the banks of the Marne, knows, nor ever heard of. One pare near Paris ; fright, devastation, and ticular circumstance has occurred at death, have everywhere marked his this exhibition, which has formed a passage ; empires' have fallen before subject of conversation all over Paris. him, towns have disappeared, whole Horace Vernet, one of the most popu- nations have been effaced from the lar painters of the day, presented no surface of the earth, and the contemptless than 32 pictures for the exhibi- ible princes who totter on the thrones tion. The jury that was appointed of Rome and Byzantium, have only to examine ali the pieces that were pre- preserved the appearance of sovereignsented, rejected two of this artist's, as ty at the expense of their treasures calculated to excite revolutionary ideas and their honour. The heirs of Au. that had better be forgotten. Piqued gustus are the tributaries of a Scyat this, Vernet withdrew every one of thian. his pictures, and, it is said, means to Attila has made an invasion into exhibit them in his own house. Gaul, and has sworn to destroy Lute
A new tragedy has just been brought tia and the infant empire of the Franks. out at the Second I'heatre Francuis, It is in his camp, in his very tent, that entitled Attila, a subject which the the action of the piece is placed. Every great Corneille, as the French call him, thing seems to favour the projects of pitched upon in his latter years, but in the Scourge of God. Marcomir disputes which he completely failed. If some the throne of Lutetia with his brother strokes of a vigorous pencil in the Mesordus, and, ambition stifling in painting of a great character, a bold- his breast all the sentiments of nature ness of expression occasionally happy, and patriotism, he goes over to Attila, a sort of poetical exultation not always as his ally and protector, or rather his in unison with good taste, but seducing master. and attractive, and certainly preferable Queen Edvege, and Genevieve, who to the languid purity and droning is considered by the inhabitants of the exactness of lines, without colour or banks of the Seine as an oracle inspienergy; if; in short, a great number of red by heaven, have fallen by chance
into the hands of Attila. The author rejects the frank explanations, the afmakes him both superstitious and fectionate offers, and kind language of amorous. He loves Edvege and fears Mesorcus, who, irritated at length by Genevieve. He makes love indeed a the outrageous expressions of hatred, little a la Cosaque ; but notwithstand- menace, and contempt, draws his ing all his rodomontades, he is con- sword—a fratricide is about to stain stantly troubled internally by the pre- the race of Pharamond-Genevieve dictions of Genevieve, who has fore- appears, and in a noble address to told his flight and his death. A troop them, frequently sublime, but rather of traitors deliver up Marcomir to At- too long, she invokes the great shade tila, who, in return, orders them all to of the founder of the French mom' be put to death. The Roman ambas- narchy, to reproach his children for sador forms a plan to assassinate him; turning against themselves the weathe conspiracy is discovered, and At- pons their country demands. Softentila merely dismisses the criminal from ed, subdued by her inspired accents, his camp, telling him he shall punish the brothers embrace, and swear to him when he has conquered Byzan- fight, conquer, or die for the common tium. In short, the four first acts are almost entirely filled with boasting bra- In the mean time the fates are acvados, high-town declamations, and complished; Attila is informed that contradictory movements of ferocity his troops are flying before the enemy, and clemency, the whole embellished he does all in his power to rouse them with forced tirudes on the valour and to courage and vengeance, but declares glory of the Franks, and on liberty; he will burn himself and all his treafor the finest theories, and most poinp- sures on a funeral pile, if fortune beous amplifications on that topic, are trays him. Genevieve terininates the adroitly placed in the mouths of At- piece by the recital of the victory of tila and Marcomir. These passages, Mesorcus, who appears himself to you may be sure, throw certain spec- confirm the intelligence. tators into extasies and convulsions of One thing was wanting to the suco delight.
cess of this new play. An author At last, however, we come to a beau- may write a tragedy, but he cannot tiful scene, the only one in the piece make an actress, and not one of the really pathetic and true.
female performers at the Odeon could Attila, in supporting the preten- come up to our idea of Genevieve. sions of Marcomir, only designs to de- Mademoiselle Georges, though a great stroy the Franks by their own hands. actress, had certainly nothing of the The two brothers are brought together innocence, the simplicity, the angelic in a scene well conducted, in which physiognomy of the virgin shepherdess the ambitious and furious Marcomir of Nantere, the patroness of Faris.
A LETTER ON THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF TASTE, AS EXEMPLIFIED IN
THE DIFFERENT CLASSES OF LITERARY PRODUCTIONS.
MR CHRISTOPHER North,
Finding multifarious recreations in As there are many different means by different departments of literature, which feeling is awakened by litera- readers, occupied with the feeling of the ture and art; and as the person who moment, may hurry along, without reads or contemplates is often content- taking pains to remember other sensaed with strong sensations, without dis- tions, or to contrast one sort of mental criminating at all as to their quality, excitement with another. or their grade in relation to taste, I
We speed from “ page” to shall address to you soine remarks on
The mind is full, no pain is in our sport. this subject; and shall endeavour to shew, that it is worth while to refer But all tastes and veins of feeling these heterogeneous sensations to some are not equally good; and it is worth test; and that certain principles of while to discriminate, and give some classification, as to the qualities and sort of definition of the different stages grades of feeling, have an existence in of taste ; although it may not always rerum natura.
be easy to give an instance of a literary VOL. XI.
work, belonging entirely to this or that “holy," in the common native affecclass, and confined entirely to one sort tions of mankind. But the private, of interest.
passions of individuals have never obIf literature were sunk to the lowest tained this honour, in poetry; for it possible state in which it could exist, is always obvious that they are limitit would reject, (from its means of in- ed, and have a certain tendency for teresting the mind,) first, all abstract one, and against another. However, truth; and then all imagination or in poetry they obtain a certain kind of conception except of things and con- admiration, when exaggerated into cerns which are commonly before the greatness, as that of inconquerable eyes of mankind, and daily forced upon pride and endurance, in Milton's de. their attention ; and then it would re- vils. The passionate love of glory nounce all sense of the difference bec among mankind also obtains a sort of tween beauty or deformity, and would exaltation and lustre in poetry. It is content itself with representing only clear, however, that the love of glory what is pleasant or painful to the in- does not belong to the internal recogdividual. Having made all these re- nition of common nature. It only nunciations, it would still have re- catches the feelings of mankind as inmaining the common passions of hu- dividuals, and makes them proudly man nature, and the hopes and fears sympathize with achievements done, which necessarily accompany personal as it were by proxy, for beloof of existence. These, in a literary work, their self-conceit. Therefore we nethe reader may be made intensely to ver hear such things called “ holy feel, by a sympathy with fictitious situ- nature.” The performer is identifiel ations ; but without almost any intere as closely as possible with the selfnal discrimination of feeling as to bet- love of each individual spectator, and ter or worse. I could even suppose is called “ un grand homme," or the lowest kind of feeling or interest to being of uncommon powers.” The be produced by a painting, not as a spectator glories in his feelings; but a work of art, but as a means of exciting satirist might say, there is a meanness sympathy; for example, a representa- in any individual wishing to sympation of a shipwreck, where men were thize with, (and borrow vainly upon) using various expedients to save their what he could not do himself. Howlives. The characteristic of this Stage ever, there is yet something, lower of Taste, is, that its interest is only in than vain-glorious sympathy with the the personal sensation of the moment, powers of distinguished individuals. and in that which brings pleasure or This is when the multitude are seized pain to the individual, but has no rela- with an inclination to have the enjoytion to any thing general, or to perma- ments of self-love equalized as much nent and abstract truth. This is the as possible, and diffused among mancase with all the common and unen- kind; and when for this purpose they lightened passions. There can scarce- become desirous of falsifying or levelly be any literary work which will not, ing distinctions, or melting them in some parts, rise above these; but it down into a sort of dirty twilight, in is of importance to discriminate what the uncertainty of which all men may is peculiarly appropriate to this lowest equally enjoy the pleasures of self-esstage of feeling. The novel of Caleb teem unreproved. In Oliver Cromwell's Williams, for instance, has a great time, when the mob entered into their power of interesting the reader, for the round-headed combination to raise the most part, but scarcely rises beyond price of lowness, the new conveniences the personal sensations of the moment, discovered were called those of “ each and that darkness as to taste which is man worshipping in his own way;" in the passions of individuals. and the nature of this sort of worship
The class of feelings which belongs was not much suspected or understood, to the lowest stage, may be called “ na- even by those who were most intensetural ;" but they do not expand or re- ly engaged in it. The curious private volve themselves into the affecting re- gropings and obscure glimmerings gocognition of common humanity. The ing on in each mind apart from the attention of the reader is fastened down rest, were also advantageous. It was to the concerns of individuals. Nature thus that no man needed to remain has sometimes been deified, and called long subject to any painful belief as