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between the ordinary voice and music-something at once material and immaterial, finite, clear, and precise; like contours and forms, the most definite, living, and animated ; like color pathetic, and infinite like sound.
A word in itself, especially a word chosen and transfigured by poetry, is the most energetic and universal symbol. Armed with this talisman, poetry reflects all the images of the sensible world, like sculpture and painting; it reflects sentiment like painting and music, with all its varieties, which music does not attain, and in their rapid succession which painting cannot follow, as precise and immobile as sculpture ; and it not only expresses all that, it expresses what is inaccessible to every other art :-I mean thought, entirely distinct from the senses and even from sentiment; thought that has no forms; thought that has no color, that lets no sound escape, that does not manifest itself in any way; thought in its highest flight, in its most refined abstraction.
Think of it! What a world of images, of sentiments, of thoughts at once distinct and confused, are excited within us by this one word-country! and by this other word, brief and immense-God! What is more clear and altogether more profound and vast !
Tell the architect, the sculptor, the painter, even the musician, to call forth also by a single stroke all the powers of nature and the soul. They cannot; and by that they acknowledge the superiority of speech and poetry. They proclaim it themselves, for they take poetry for their own measure; they esteem their own works, and demand that they should be esteemed, in proportion as they approach the poetic ideal. And the human race does as artists do; a beautiful picture, a noble melody, a living and expressive statue, gives rise to the exclamation, How poetical! This is not an arbitrary comparison; it is a natural judgment which makes poetry the type of the perfection of all the arts; the art par excellence, which comprises all others, to which they aspire, which none can reach.
Then the other arts would imitate the works of poetry, they usually err, losing their own genius without robbing poetry of its genius. But poetry constructs, according to its own taste, palaces and temples, like architecture; it makes them simple or magnificent ; all orders, as well as all systems, obey it; the different ages of art are the same to it; it reproduces, if it please, the Classic or the Gothic, the beautiful or the sublime, the measured or the infinite.
Lessing has been able, with the exactest justice, to compare Homer to the most perfect sculptor; with such precision are the forms which that marvelous chisel gives to all things determined. And what a painter, too, is Homer! And, of a different kind, Dante! Music alone has something more penetrating than poetry, but it is vague, limited, and fugitive.
ALPHONSE DE LAMARTINE (1790-1869)
THE ORATOR OF THE 1848 REVOLUTION
N the 25th of February, 1848, when a seditious and furious mob
traversed the streets of Paris, demanding the red flag of anarchy
instead of the tricolor of the Republic, Alphonse de Lamartine, a member of the revolutionary government, appeared before them, and in a passionate burst of eloquence calmed their feelings and brought them back to reason. Never before in history had oratory won a triumph like this, and it placed Lamartine high among political orators.
Known before as a poet of splendid powers, and as a historian by his brilliant “History of the Girondists," Lamartine, in 1848, became the master spirit and the moderator of the revolution, repressing the tendency to violence by admirable displays of eloquence, courage and magnanimity, and winning an immense popularity, which, however, was not long lived. His decline in public estimation was shown in the election for President in December, 1848, in which he received only 8000 votes. During the remainder of his life he produced a number of valuable historical works.
WHAT IS THE FRENCH REVOLUTION [Lamartine's views of the true character of the French Revolution and of the benefits which remained after its reign of terror had passed away, are well shown in the following extract from one of his speeches.]
What, then, is the French Revolution ? Is it, as the adorers of the past say, a great sedition of a nation disturbed for no reason, and destroying in their insensate convulsions their church, their monarchy, their classes, their institutions, their nationality, and even rending the map of Europe ? No! the Revolution has not been a miserable sedition of
ALPHONSE DE LAMARTINE
France; for a sedition subsides as it rises, and leaves nothing but corpses and ruins behind it. The Revolution has left scaffolds and ruins, it is true; therein is its remorse; but it has also left a doctrine; it has left a spirit which will be enduring and perpetual so long as human reason shall exist.
We are not inspired by the spirit of faction! No fectious idea enters our thoughts. We do not wish to compose a faction—we compose opinion, for it is nobler, stronger, and more invincible. Shall we have, in our first struggles, violence, oppression and death? No, gentlemen ! let us give thanks to our fathers; it shall be liberty which they have bequeathed to us, liberty which now has its own arms, its pacific arms, to develop itself without anger and excess. Therefore shall we triumph-be sure of it! and if you ask what is the moral force that shall bend the government beneath the will of the nation, I will answer you ; it is the sovereignty of ideas, the royalty of mind, the Republic, the true Republic of intelligence; in one word, opinion--that modern power whose very name was unknown to antiquity. Gentlemen, public opinion was born on the very day when Gutenberg, who has been styled the artificer of a new world, invented, by printing, the multiplication and indefinite communication of thought and human reason. This incomprehensible power of opinion needs not for its sway either the brand of vengeance, the sword of justice, or the scaffold of terror. It holds in its hands the equilibrium between ideas and institutions, the balance of the human mind. In one of the scales of this balance—understand it well-will be for a long time placed mental superstitions, prejudices self-styled useful, the divine right of kings, distinctions of right among classes, international animosities, the spirit of conquest, the venal alliance of Church and state, the censorship of thought, the silence of tribunes, and the ignorance and systematic degradation of the masses. In the other scale, we ourselves, gentlemen, will place the lightest and most impalpable thing of all that God has created light, a little of that light which the French Revolution evoked at the close of the last century-from a volcano, doubtless, but from a volcano of truth.
SAFETY ONLY IN THE REPUBLIC [From Lamartine's remarkable speeches of 1848 we select the following eloquent appeal for the Republic, as the only security against the reign of anarchy and bloodshed which was threatened in the temper of the populace.]
For my part, I see too clearly the series of consecutive catastrophes I should be preparing for my country, to attempt to arrest the avalanche of such a Revolution, on a descent where no dynastic force could retain it without increasing its mass, its weight, and the ruin of its fall. There is,
ALPHONSE DE LAMARTINE
I repeat to you, a single power capable of preserving the people from the danger with which a revolution, under such social conditions, menaces them, and this is the power of the people; it is entire liberty. It is the suffrage, will, reason, interest, the hand and arm of all—the Republic !
Yes, it is the Republic alone which can now save you from anarchy, civil and foreign war, spoliation, the scaffold, the decimation of property, the overthrow of society and foreign invasion. The remedy is heroic, I know, but at crises of times and ideas like these in which we live, there is no effective policy but one as great and audacious as the crisis itself. By giving, to-morrow, the Republic in its own name to the people, you will instantly disarm it of the watchword of agitation. What do I say? You will instantly change its anger into joy, its fury into enthusiasm. All who have the Republican sentiment at heart, all who have had a dream of the Republic in their imaginations, all who regret, all who aspire, all who reason, all who dream in France,- Republicans of the secret societies, Republicans militant, speculative Republicans, the people, the tribunes, the youth, the schools, the journalists, men of hand and men of headwill utter but one cry, will gather round their standard, will arm to defend it, but will rally, confusedly at first, but in order afterwards, to protect the government, and to preserve society itself behind this government of all-a supreme force which may have its agitations, never its dethronements and its ruins ; for this government rests on the very foundations of the nation. It alone appeals to all. This government only can maintain itself; this alone can govern itself; this only can unite, in the voices and hands of all, the reason and will, the arms and suffrages; necessary to serve not only the nation from servitude, but society, the family relation, property and morality, which are menaced by the cataclysm of ideas which are fermenting beneath the foundations of this half-crumbled throne.
If anarchy can be subdued, mark it well, it is by the Republic! If communism can be conquered, it is by the Republic ! If revolution can be moderated, it is by the Republic! If blood can be spared, it is by the Republic! If universal war, if the invasion it would perhaps bring on as the reaction of Europe upon us, can be avoided, understand it well once more, it is by the Republic. This is why, in reason, and in conscience, as a statesman, before God and before you, as free from illusion as from fanaticism, if the hour in which we deliberate is pregnant with a revolution, I will not conspire for a counter-revolution. I conspire for none but if we must have one, I will accept it entire, and I will decide for the Republic !
LOUIS ADOLPHE THIERS (1797-1877)
AN ORATOR OF THE OPPOSITION
HIERS was one of that patriotic band who vigorously opposed
the imperial methods of Louis Napoleon, not, like Victor
Hugo, in exile, but on the floor of the French Parliament. He was an orator of the opposition in the latter years of Louis Philippe's reign, and when Napoleon seized the empire he ceased to be his partisan and became his persistent foe. In 1867 he made a strong speech against Napoleon's foreign policy, and in 1870 he vigorously opposed the war with Prussia, declaring that Napoleon had committed another blunder. When the French Republic was organized, in 1871, he was elected its President, but resigned in 1873, after having done much to overcome the evil effects of the war. As a historical author he is known for his “ History of the Revolution” and “ History of the Consulate and Empire,” two works that have been very widely read. As a statesman he was a man of indomitable courage and of deep and genuine patriotism.
THE WASTEFULNESS OF THE IMPERIAL FINANCE, [As a favorable example of the oratorical manner of M. Thiers, we offer a selec. tion from his speech in the Budget of June 2, 1865, in which he points out, with a critical and sarcastic clearness that must have been very annoying to the administration, the wilful blindness with which the revenues of the empire were being expended.]
Since our new institutions diminished the share which our nation took in managing its own affairs, it was feared that the activity of mind with which I am reproached might be dangerous, unless means should be found to occupy the attention of the country. These means, sometimes dangerous, always odious, have been wars abroad, and enormous expenditure and great speculations at home. After great wars come small onessmall, if we consider the number of men engaged, but large if we consider