J.Alff - AETINE IN ENGLAND ALPHONSE DE 1AM.SeETINE,gives 'England a certificate of
character under his own hand. For he is not always absorbed in his Narcis- sus contemplation, but occasionally varies 'his delights with the survey of something else which can be called good and great. If his bill of fare were reduced to a dietary table, probably one article would recur as 'often as gruel in .a workhouse dietaiy—and that article is Lamartine ; but there are other articles : the East is his cheese, 'England his potatoes, and Heaven his beer. The most striking qualities about Lamartine are his humility, his modesty, and his greatness ; .ancl7he loses no :pains to convince his maidens of all three. As ,to his humility, it dictates every linehe utters : he always speaks of .Himself in the most Jumble terms, and so dis- parages his writings—"these few -pages ,without value-that you wonder why he pliblishes•them. As .tolais modesty, it is the subject of a eontroversybetween him_ and his critics. -His critics accuse him of a moral indecency the 'most Iktgrantl and, with the eloquence so peenTiaily his' own, be takes a pridein distilling the very essence of these .attacks. Thus, the statesman-poet-orator, speaking in his Nouvelles Lisqficlenees of the abuse leashed on his original Confulencesly the critics,says- "They believed, or pretended to believe, that Lsouhlit a worthless cele- brity in thetellies of -my own heart; they said that, by an anticipation of wamty, I -witihed to phi& and enjoy during my lifetime the-sad-ephemeral blossoms which would spring-up: on nay grave. They have cried outagainst the profanation of theinnermost feelings, themhamelessneas of a soul laid bare, the bad Mate of reminiscences betrayed, the venality of hilly things,
the simony of the poet selling his 'heartstrings to save the Ames and the roof . .
y.3 3 How he relishes the savmir -of his own Shame !--Its it dog relishes the licking of his own bruises. But in that same -beak, -where he for the twentieth time, in whispersto his -beloved France, confesses his awn goodness and greatness, he contends :that what' ooks like immodesty is-the very reverse- m" seintepuilem-" ; and, arnsual, disparaging himself, 'he otilyby-aecittent and qUitaunpremeditat,ely happens to Show-his .greatness byplacing himself amcrngthe great. The naiveteofthese passages-is not to be excelled : -they are -useful as casting a heavenly light on the human angel who vouchsafes to England, of 'his -free bounty, a testimonial. Alas ! -am what you -are, -a poor writer ; a -writer, =that is a public thinker; I am, genius and virtue creeptod, *what were St. Augustine, dean .Jacques lionsasau, Chateaubriand, Montaigne, all who interrogated their souls in silence and made the responsemloud, that theindialogue with them- selves Might also 'be -a useful discourse with their century, with the future. 'The human 'heart is an instrument which has neither the same number nor -the same quality- of chords in all 'breasts ; and one may eternally-discover new :ones tomdd Ito the infinite gamut of thementimentwand hymns Cfmrea- lion. That is the part which falls to us, poets or prosaiata, in .spite of our- selves, rhapsodists of the endless poem -which -nature chants to God and man !"
" I have always 'felt the same instincSve repugnance at reading to one person, what required .-no effort of outraged modesty to allow -the public lo _read; and afterlong.reilection, I have discovered that this apparent:inertia- sistenny is at -bottom a perfectly logical .feet in. our nature." ..".1t is .that a_friend.is a being,present,-listening, looking, areal being; and that the _public is an invisible'being, a'being cif reasan, an abstract being." " But arethatmodesty of-which you-speak is nothing more-than-the ran- sciousness of the preeenee of some human being, no sooner does the-multi- plicity of-those prosenttestrey that individuality, than.themotive of modesty uo lodger exists. Psyche blushes-beneath the,glowmf a lamp, because the hand of a solitarysedis holding it close to:her-beautiful !Kay ; but let the sun look down on her with its thousand rays from the heights of Olympus, mud that personification of a modest soul will not blush before a -whole -.heaven:" U Musthought St. Augustine, Plato, Socrates, Cicero, Claw; Bernardin tie Bt. Pierre, Montaigne, Alden, Chateaubriand, and all the men who have vanfided tithe world the truthful palpitations of theinown hearts." _Eayche Lamartine blushes to unveil herself—"genius is femi- _ninel'—to the one friend.;-but can play the denuded G.odiv.a to the muesli .11ncth is the ineffable•being -that, looking down from the heaven of *himself, benignly and affably applauds England. He came over last month, and fin returning, as .a traveller gives to the at- tentive innheeper.a certificate, XiPhonse Lamartine bestows on the English empire his written approval But from Ibis exalted iposifion, surveying our country through the celestial blue of the 1Tunoniansether that is between his Olympian excelsitude and this nether world, the vision as seen by him can be but faintly reeef;- _nixed by a Londoner. his account of the great metropolis .reads
hyperpoetical vision. of the New Atalantis.
"The appearance .of the people in the street is-no longer what filled me --With consternation twenty ears ago. In place of those ragged lands of beg- Tars—men, women, an ldren—Who swarmed in the narrow and-gloomy :streets of-the manufacturing town, you see well-dressed workmen, with an :1 appearance of strength ,andlealth, goimg to work or returning peaceabl;y11 from their workshop with their tools on their shoulder; young girls issuing . wit:heat tumult front the bowies where they work, .under the superintend- ence'Of women older than themselves, or of a father or brother, who brings them-back to,the house.; from time to time you see, numerous columns -of lithe children of from five to eight, years of .age, ;poorly but decently clad, led by a.woman, who.leaves them at their own doors, aller having watched over them all day. They all present then ppegranaefof relative comfort, of the most exquisite cleanliness, and of -health. 'ot Wilk perceive few if any idle groups on the public way, and infinitelrfether drunken men than for- merly.; the streets appear as if purged of vice and wretchednees, or:only ex- hibit those which always remain on the semi _gm immense population."
How- to account for this .description.inAtificalt, hat we think• we can guess at the original. We will venture to say that the well- dressed workinen. -entered 'to the wilKv,viith the -tools on 'their shedder, to" the`Sound of music, in free bounds-of unstudied-grace, with collar turned down and-slcotexquisite whiteness.; that the " numerons eolannistof Iititlet- children' bore garlands of roses, and-ranged themselves inangelic groups ; and that the woman-who left-them at their own door, "-after having watched over them all day,"waved her doting adieu, :smiling, on one leg, the -other leg -elegantly in air. In short, after dinner one day, M. de Lamartine went:to see a ballast "Her Majesty's," and he has confounded the London world with the Lumley world.; where Covent Garden market is tended by fairies with stout calves and short -petticoats ; where the fish-fags of Billingsgate are a mute corps d'eflet of purest nymphs ".d'une sainte pudeur, si chaste et -si pure " ; and where the Irish hodman is a vaulting Adonis in shirt-sleeves and white silk smalls—object of endearing and sanatory contest-between a goddess and a mere mortal princess, on whom, with a. sublime ncoodesty, -he-generously bestows the entreehate of his soul!