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rupted in the course of this session, but he always fell on his feet, for, to use the words of M. Ste. Beuve, “il joint aux autres qualités de l'orateur celle de la riposte et de l'apropos.”
We are no admirers of the political or religious views of M. de Montalembert, but we must express our perfect concurrence in an opinion which he enunciated on the 19th October, 1849, in speaking of the affairs of Rome. “The clear result of the anarchy of the last few years," said he, “has not been the dethronement of a few kings, but the dethronement and destruction of liberty. Kings have reascended their thrones," he sadly said, “but not so with liberty.” M. de Montalembert speaks with perfect facility and self-possession. He is quite as much at his ease as a gentleman talking to a circle of friends at an evening party. He gesticulates very little, but he possesses “the arrow for the heart," as Byron calls it,—the sweet voice, clear, resonant, and silvery as a bell. A great French authority on oratory has said, “On a toujours la voix de son esprit.” The mind of Montalembert is clear and piercing, and his voice is the index of his mind. But albeit a beautiful and a classical speaker, he is sometimes a bigot in opinion and an ultramontane advocate of the Papacy.'
Lacordaire, the great pulpit orator, whose career has recently closed, is among the eminent persons whom Mr. Kirwan has sketched. Writing of this remarkable priest some years since, he describes him as
· Characterized by the boldness of his views-by great originality, and occasionally great felicity of expression. "I had the honour long ago to know intimately,” says M. Ste. Beuve, “the Abbé Lacordaire, and I have never seen or heard him since without being moved by his words and accents.” There are some curious circumstances in the history of Lacordaire. He is the son of a doctor, and was born, in 1802, at the village of Recy-sur-Ource, five leagues from Châtillon-sur-Seine. He studied from 1810 to 1819, at the Lycée of Dijon, in which city he afterwards became a law-student. His provincial course of law finished, he became a “Stagiare” in Paris about 1822, and soon after commenced to plead with considerable success.
* But pleading did not satisfy the craving of his mind, and he desired something better. Exclaiming with Réné, “Je suis rassassié de tout sans avoir rien connu," he renounced the bar in 1824 and entered at St. Sulpice. In 1830 and 1831 we find him engaged with Lammenais and the young Montalembert in the “ Avenir.” In the latter year, when the question raised by this journal was before the Chamber of Peers, it was Lacordaire who replied in a vigorous but impromptu speech to the remarks of the Attorney-General Persil. It was in the “Conférences” which he preached at the College Stanislas, in 1834, three years afterwards, that Lacordaire first became known as a preacher. A little while afterwards the Lacordaire–Béranger.
195 pulpit of Notre Dame was opened to him by the Archbishop of Paris. At this cathedral he continued his sermons for two years, exercising considerable influence over the students of the capital, when suddenly and at once he left for Rome with a view to assume the habit of a Dominican.
That habit he has worn in France since 1841, and, wonderful to say, without any diminution of his popularity. Sermons in the Roman Catholic Church, and more especially in France, are so different in tone and spirit from anything we are accustomed to in these countries, that we had rather be excused from saying any. thing in reference to Lacordaire's discourses even as mere literary works. The “ oraison funèbre,” in which the “père" is supposed to excel, is generally a pompous, turgid, and tawdry panegyric, in which simplicity and good taste are too often set at nought. True, there are exceptions in some of the “oraisons funèbres" of Bossuet and Fléchier. But the great mass of these “ Eloges” are obnoxious to the remarks which we make.'
Lacordaire delivered three funeral orations, but they did not contribute to his fame. One of them was on O'Connell. Concerning this performance M. Ste. Beuve said, “It is not free ' from the declamation common to these times. Each age has 'its idolatries: the idolatory of the age of Louis XIV. was 'royalty ; that of ours is popularity. The sacred orator has too ‘much respected popularity in the person of the great agitator,
who, when living, spared neither mendacity nor invective to 'arrive at his ends. Such a criticism gives us a favourable impression of the critic's judgment, independence, and moral feeling. Here is part of our author's sketch of Béranger :
"Perhaps there never was a writer who more embodied in his works the sentiments, feelings, prejudices, and passions of his countrymen than De Béranger. This is one of the reasons of his almost miraculous popularity. The pieces of this wonderful ( chansonnier," as he called himself, are as much relished in the “ château" as in the “chaumière,” in the lady's “boudoir" as in the “grenier où l'on est si bien a vingt ans.” M. Ste. Beuve has written two criticisms on De Béranger-one in 1835, in the " Portraits Contemporains," and the other in 1850, which is now before us. The critic does not deny that they somewhat differ, but he asks candidly and fairly whether one is not to correct and modify one's impressions and judgment by age and by experience. Assuredly that is a privilege which no one will deny M. Ste. Beuve. He has exercised such a privilege judiciously in the case of Chateaubriand and Lamartine. But these eminent men published works unworthy of their former fame between 1830 and 1850, whereas De Béranger has written nothing since M. Ste. Beuve first criticised him in 1835. As De Béranger was in 1835, so he was in 1850, so that there was certainly less justification for the critical remarks on
the great "chansonnier" than in reference to the two other eminent Frenchmen. Far are we from saying that De Béranger is faultless. There are inequalities and feebleness n some of his pieces. Some of them are distinguished, to use the epithet of a learned academician, by “ sécheresse," and others of them by obscurity. But on the whole his strains are eminently national and popular; they are distinguished by alternate tenderness, pathos, and fire, -by an ardent love of liberty and independence, and a hatred of tyranny and oppression. There is not a Frenchman who has fought the battles of France in any country in Europe or out of it, who does not feel his blood tingle, and his spirit and soul and heart rise within him as he reads " La Vivandière,” “ Le Cing Mai," “L'Aveugle de Bagnolet,” “L'Exilé,” “Le Retour dans la Patrie," and other songs, in which De Béranger makes allusion to the military glory of his country. When it is considered that this gifted being never drank of the milk of the schools, and made himself what he is—the glory of France, and the wonder of men in so · many nations—his genius will appear the more remarkable.' • But Mr. Kirwan's estimate of the literature of France, com
paring past with present, is not favourable or hopeful. Periodical and general literature, in his judgment, if not perfectly inanimate, is near a state of inanition. Works of an independent or speculative character, in politics or literature, rarely issue from the press, and when they do appear, are subject to a strict censorship. The material prosperity of the country is great, and all classes seem to be becoming more and more content with the material gratifications which that prosperity can command. In this view, Mr. Kirwan's volume is a painful book. to read. Industry, it seems, may take the place of war, and humanity may be far from safe. War has slain its thousands ; but the history of the world shows, that the sensualism and effeminacy, which come in the train of successful money-getting, has destroyed its tens of thousands. It is not by the enemy at the gate that nations are destroyed, but by the enemy within. Some of our sages in political science seem to think that nations must be strong and happy in the measure in which they can be self-indulgent. Others see the evidence of wonderful devotion in the culture of the æsthetic faculties. But the strength of nations lies not there. It lies in their moral and religious intelligence, and in their moral and religious feeling. Nations become strong by truth and honesty, not by much pelf, nor by much of what commonly passes for refinement. When we look to much that is before us, whether on this side the Atlantic or on the other, we see enough to admonish us against supposing that the most money-getting nations are the most virtuous, the most religious, the most happy. That the reverse of all this may follow from that cause is but too
Civilization-Mistakes concerning it.
manifest to the thoughtful man who looks to past or present in the old world or the new.
One of the most remarkable features of France of the present day,' says Mr. Kirwan, 'is the desire which everybody has of growing suddenly rich. Not merely do the “ badauds” of Paris desire to become millionaires suddenly, but they desire to be wealthy without toil or labour of any kind. The thirst of gold, it is plain, devours all hearts, whether male or female; yet every day the indulgence of these sordid passions, absorbing the active energies of Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, leads to alternations of fortune rarely productive of happiness, and very often productive of dishonour, dishonesty, and crime. Gambling, whether in a “maison de jeu" or on the Bourse, is destructive of all morality, and is the fruitful parent of iniquity. It is not, however, in the gamblinghouses, around a table covered with a green cloth, that the worst evils of play are apparent. The vice has, during some years, in another form, insinuated itself into very many classes of society in France, who seem to possess principles, habitudes, ideas, and a language different from men of probity and honour. For individuals of the character of which we speak, life itself is but a "coup de dé," and each appears to think that fortune belongs to the most venturesome.
On a calm consideration of a long series of speculations at the Bourse, a philosopher would come to the conclusion that industrious and patient labour is, taken all in all, the happiest thing for man. Happy and successful turns of the wheel of fortune, or, as they call them, “coups," may occasionally give gold in countless heaps; but this addition of fortune is seldom accompanied with public esteem. Under the elder and the junior Bourbons, a moderate fortune in any town or city in France was generally, as a rule, the fruit of forty years of toil and privation. Now, by speculations in the Crédit Foncier, or Crédit Mobilier, in the Crédit Industriel, in the Mobilier Espagnol, or in the Orleans, Lyons, or Eastern Railroads, in the Messageries, in gas companies, in Transatlantiques, or in joint-stock newspapers, some score of citizens acquire a considerable accession of wealth, but, on the other hand, hundreds are ruined.
Fortunes of this kind, rapidly and illegitimately acquired, throw discredit on honest labour, and infuse into the minds of the laborious classes sentiments perfectly incompatible with the pursuits of honest industry. The grandfathers of the present race of Frenchmen were taught to think that honest labour was the first duty of man. There is not a notary's, an attorney's, or a stockbroker's clerk in Paris who now believes in such a doctrine. All the smart and fast men in Paris of the present day and hour wish to be concerned in what is called “l'agiotage"—that is to say, they wish to have usurious profits in trafficking in what, in the jargon of
the Exchange, is called “sur la hausse et la baisse des effets publics."
The germ of this system may unquestionably be traced back to the time of Louis XV. The taste of this prince for magnificence, and the favour he bestowed on those Fermiers Généraux and Financiers who were magnificent and prodigal in their way of living, threw many fortunes into dilapidation. Then came what were called "valeurs fictives," and bundles of discredited bills and bonds which nobody would discount. The evil increased under the Regent Orleans, when John Law emitted his Louisiana bonds, his Mississippi shares, launched his Royal Bank, and made his mansion in the Rue Quincampoix the theatre of gambling almost as hazardous as any practised in Paris in our day. But the bubble burst after a while, and ruined thousands who had hoped to be millionaires. We shall witness a recurrence of like miseries before the end of 1864, unless the wild and reckless gambling of the "courtiers marrons” of Paris be checked.'
It would be well, in looking on these things abroad, if we could feel that we have no such things at home. But we know that the case is not so. Men are living in an age of wealth, and the temptations inseparable from it-temptations to a selfish sensualism, an effeminate corruptness—are everywhere besetting them. If our religion does not enable us to resist this pressure, nothing else will, and we too must drift away as others have done in the same circumstances. In France, the successful classes in commercial speculation seem to have come very much into the place of the old noblesse class, only surpassing them in their passion for splendour. The lords of the Bourse have come into the position of the lords of the broad acres. The bad of the old régime may have passed away, but the bad of the new has come.
Happily, in this country we have very little of the demagogic element left among us. But of all men who open their lips to address our people there are none so censurable, to our feeling, as the men who can tell our humbler classes that the great thing needed to their happiness is that they should possess a wider franchise, and greater power to influence legislation. All this might be, if communism could be made to be a truth, in place of being a lie; or rather, if men could be made industrious, temperate, prudent, and forecasting by legislation. We are not alarmed at the thought of a wider franchise; but we must confess that we have no pleasure in men, who, to have a cry, can insist that to gain that would be to our working men the great remedy against their discomforts. Every sound statesman must know that law can do but little to elevate society. That must come from influences affecting the individuals of which