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qualities as a poet, we wish to leave them untouched. In an examination of his writings, we do not conceive it necessary to enter into an inquisition on his principles; and we think that a just notion of his literary merit may be obtained, without an analysis of his religious and political creed. The intolerant spirit of party may delight to peer into the recesses of men's minds, and drag forth the secret of their abstract opinions. But we hold this utterly unjustifiable in candid literary enquiry. The private conduct of a public writer has rarely much connexion with his works; and even if it has, even when we may trace the analogy between his life and opinions, it is of little importance to the world, which is rarely benefited by isolated examples of good or ill, although sensibly affected by the writings of the man, whose personal influence is as nothing. But should our opinion be ineffectual to stop this evil of modern criticism ; should the desire, so natural to mankind, of scrutinizing the conduct of our neighbours, prevail over the suggestions of a considerate reserve, we believe there does not exist an individual who might more fearlessly court the scrutiny than the subject of our present notice. He is a man of exemplary conduct in the limited sphere to which he has voluntarily circumscribed himself. Of simple manners and most frugal habits, he possesses at once a generous, philosophic, and highly independent mind, as exemplified in his frequent refusal of the proffered benefits of a numerous circle of friends, as well as in other points of conduct which will be noticed hereafter.
It is not, however, our purpose to hold up the songs of De Béranger as invulnerable to the censures of moral, any more than literary, criticism. We consider them, on the contrary, to contain occasional passages highly offensive to the rigorous notions of a large portion of society; and some few songs, which the most tolerant reader would willingly erase from the book. To specify these, is an easy task. Bacchante," " Ma Grandmère," " Margot," "Le Soir des Noces," "Le Bon Dieu.” These five songs, deducted from the one hundred and sixty-three which compose the two published volumes, and occasional purifications in a few of those which remain, would remove every cause of censure, and render the republication of the work in this country highly desirable. But even for the fault of publishing these pieces, excuses may be fairly found in the consideration of the author's situation in life. A man like Béranger, self-educated, thrown in his tenderest years upon the world, and that the world of revolutionary disorganization, may well find absolution for those scanty offences, for which he had ample precedents in the compositions of many a noble and cassocked author of his own country, from the Duke de Nivernais to Cardinal Bernis. It must also be recollected, that the song in France has always been a licensed vehicle for the utterance of sentiments which might be thought to pass the bounds of strict decorum; a “ chartered libertine," for which no latitude was held excessive, and no subject sacred. De Béranger was the first author in this line, whose uncommon powers brought its privileges into hazard ; and it will be seen, from the following short biographical sketch, that the trial in his person was less an individual attack, than a serious question discussed between the crown and the nation.
It is not often that the composition of a poet offers in a couple of short stanzas, the most leading details of his birth, parentage, and
education. An unpublished song of De Béranger, highly admired in Paris for its modesty and its poetical merit, commences thus; and our readers need not fear its being spurious, for we copy it from the author's manuscript.
Dans ce Paris, plein d'or et de misère,
« Vois le sous ma baguette,
de foudre ajoute à mes presages :
Calmait le cri de mes premiers chagrins. To this information, that he was born in Paris in the year 1780, that his grandfather was a tailor, he himself an attendant in an inn, (kept, we believe, by his mother,) struck by lightning in his youth, apprenticed to a printer, and subsequently a clerk in a public office, little is to be added of De Béranger's early life. He has been heard to say that he learned to read he scarcely remembers how; but that the first books he studied were the Bible, and a translation of Homer. In these volumes consisted the whole library of the “ Auberge,” and it may be conceived how powerfully such studies must have aided to fix the bias of so poetical a mind. In the printing-office he had a wider field for improvement. He there learned the rules of his mother tongue, its orthography and versification-and beyond these, bis knowledge of language does not extend. Neither is there any thing apparent in his songs to make us suppose him a man of extensive reading, beyond the volume of the human mind. That he has deeply studied; and for his admirable commentaries upon it, we cheerfully dispense with a display of learning,—for pedantry would be, to poetry such as bis, a gloomy shadow thrown across the face of a bright portrait of life and manners.
In his humble station of clerk in the office of public instruction, he found leisure for the composition of some of those songs which have since become so celebrated. He was in the habit of singing these productions in the society of his friends, and they soon got abroad. Senateur" and " Le Roi d'Yvetot”-the first, a bitter satire against the corruption and subserviency of senators—the latter, a not less keen attack upon the Emperor,—were particularly popular; and it is said, that Napoleon laughed at the wit of the lesson, by which he failed to profit. Lucien Bonaparte, the great patron of letters of his day, had heard of De Béranger, and became his protector. Upon the voluntary exile of Lucien, the poet was desirous of proving his gratitude by the dedica
tion of a volume of pastoral poetry. The consors suppressed the dedication, which contained expressions little palatable to the Imperial taste. De Béranger on this abandoned his intention, and his Idyls remain to this day unpublished. When Napoleon lost his empire for the first time, the noise of his fall was not echoed by the muse of De Béranger. He scorned to libel, when in misfortune, him whom he had satirized in the fulness of his power. Quietly fulfilling the duties of his station, he saw the return of the Emperor, but he did not profit by his temporary success. He was offered during the hundred days the office of censor, a place of considerable emolument and influence, but little suited to the free and liberal turn of his mind. He unhesitatingly refused it. In the year 1815, during the occupation of France by the Allies, he was prevailed on to publish a small volume of songs. Its success was prodigious; and although it contained several of those afterwards selected for prosecution, they did not then attract the vengeance of the ministers. With his celebrity came its natural consequence--improvement. He wrote new songs, each one better than the other. Subjects of the most inviting nature presented themselves in the political tergiversation, and the revival of religious excess, which every day became more evident. De Béranger seized on such topics, and made the chastisement of the offenders his peculiar province. The government became indignant, and the “Chansonnier" was deprived of his place.
But there never was a more perfect triumph prepared for a literary man, than this destitution procured for its intended victim. His cause was at once espoused as national, and he, pronounced a martyr. His private friends, a numerous party, rallied round him, and the public joined in circles of increasing extent, till the whole surface of society was ruffled by the wide-spreading eddies of discontent, emanating from him who floated buoyantly on the troubled waters. A new edition of his songs was announced, with an additional volume. Ten thousand copies were printed, and instantly sold. The prosecution of the author was resolved on; the suppression of the work commanded ; and the discovery of four copies rewarded the zeal of the police. De Béranger was brought to trial on four separate charges, namely, for having outraged morality, insulted religion, offended the King's person, and excited the public to sedition. Fourteen songs were selected to bear out these charges. The interest created was quite unparalleled. The court was crowded to an excess scarcely before witnessed; and the powers of the counsel employed in the prosecution and defence were exerted to the utmost. The result was, the acquittal of the accused on the first and third charges, and his conviction on the second and fourth, by a majority of the jurors (conformably to the French law) of seven to five; but it was discovered by the judges, after the jury returned their verdict, that the fourth charge (which was literally “ d'avoir provoqué au port public d'un signe extérieur de ralliement non autorisé par le Roi") was not qualified as an offence by the
La Bacchante; Ma Grand' mère; Margot; Deo gratias d'un Epicuréen ; La descente aux Enfers ; Les Capucins ; Les Chantres de Paroisse ; Les Missionnaires ; Le Bon Dien ; La Mort du Roi Christophe ; Le Prince de Navarre ; La Cocarde blanche; L'Enrhumé; Le Vieux Drapeau.
criminal code. De Béranger then stood only liable to punishment on the second charge, "d'avoir commis le délit d'outrage à la morale public et religieuse;" and his sentence for this offence was, three months' imprisonment, a fine of 500 francs, (201.), and the suppression of his work.
The announcement of so slight a penalty on charges so serious, the small majority of the jury by which he was convicted, and the general feeling that the attack was prompted much less by respect for religion and “bonnes mœurs” than by political malice, left De Béranger and his friends no triumph to desire. He enjoyed his imprisonment and paid his fine; for the first was a continued fète, and his
wealthy friends showered offers upon him, which, if accepted, would have repaid his forfeited francs a thousand-fold. But he declined all assistance. The profits of his publication produced a sum which gives him an annual income of about 801., and on this he lives independent, respectable, and content. He has written but little since his trial. An occasional Song escapes him, as it were, without effort; and if he does not court, he has too much gallantry to decline, the visits of the willing Muse.
In the spirit of this independence De Béranger passes his days. The soundness of his judgment causes him to be consulted in almost every important question, by several of the leading members of the Coté Gauche; and he is not more valued in public as a poet, than in his private circle as a politician. Literary friends continually urge him to write, and we may safely say that all parties look anxiously for the publication of those Idyls already alluded to, and which are pronounced to be admirable by many competent judges to whom they have been shewn. It is natural to suppose that a man, who possesses so much conversational talent, and who is so intently listened to, has had many of his sayings recorded. We shall content ourselves with citing one of these. When urged to compose a song against a celebrated statesman then in disgrace, he replied, “à la bonne heure, quand il sera ministre.” We should be glad to see this reply reprinted in as many multiplications as the copies of his songs, which are altogether, including the editions of Bruxelles and Geneva, 35,000.
In conclusion we have only to say, that though we could wish to give the reader an idea of De Béranger in an English translation, we feel the difficulty of the task, and the probability of our failure if we should attempt it. But we shall give one specimen in the original :
Le Vieur Drapeau.
Je viens de me voir entouré.
Le vin m'a rendu la mémoire.
J'ai mon drapeau dans ma chaumière.
Où je dors pauvre et mutilé;
Vingt ans de bataille en bataille !
Chargé de lauriers et de fleurs,
Il brilla sur l'Europe entière.
Tout le sang qu'il nous a coûté.
Nos fils jouaient avec sa lance.
Fatigué de lointains exploits :
Il sut aussi lancer la foudre.
Des lois il deviendra l'appui.
Citoyen au bord de la Loire.
Un instant osons l'entrevoir.
C'est à toi d'essuyer mes larmes.
Le Ciel entendra la prière.
ACCOUNT OF AN APPARITION,
Scen at Star-Cross, in Devonshire, the 230 July, 1823.
Part of himself; th' immortal mind remains :
POPE. I am perfectly aware of the predicament in which I am placing myself, when in the present age of incredulity I venture to commit to paper, in all sincerity of spirit and fulness of conviction, a deliberate and circumstantial account of an Apparition. Impostor and visionary, knave and fool, these are the alternate horns of the dilemma on which I shall be tossed with sneers of contempt, or smiles of derision ; every delusion practised by fraud or credulity, from the Cock-lane Ghost, down to the Reverend Mr. Colton, and the Sampford Spectre, will be faithfully registered against me, and I shall be finally dismissed, according to the temperament of the reader, either with a petulant rebuke for attempting to impose such exploded superstition upon an enlightened public ; or with a sober and friendly recommendation to get my