« AnteriorContinua »
ILLUSTRATED ARTICLE. The prince, and thus preferr'd her dear
request; Tasso's JERUSALEM DELIVERED. Some pitying angel form'd her last desire,
Where faith and hope, and charity conspire ! THE SUBJECT OF THE EMBELLISHMENT
On the fair rebel, Heav'n such grace bestow'd Is the death of the valiant warrior inaid
And now in death requir'd the faith she ow'd,
'Tis thine, my friend !-I pardon thee the Clorinda, she having been left behind by
strokeher party, the Pagans, whiist effecting ! let me pardon too from thee invoke !a retreat from the Christians, who were for this I know no fear, and ask no care :
Not for this mortal frame I urge my prayer, fiercely pursuing them for firing one of No, for my soul alone I pity crave; their towers, is overtaken by Prince Tan- 0 ! cleanse my follies in the sacred wave ? cred, a Christian leader, who she engages
Feebly she spoke; the mournful sounds with, and by him is slain. He
suppo- A tender feeling to the victor's heart; sed to be motionless with amazement on
His wrath subsides, while softer passions rise, discovering that he has unknowingly mor And call the tear of pity from his eyes. tally wounded Clorinda of whom he was
Not distant far, adown the mossy hill
In gentle inurmurs roll'd a crystal rill : enamoured,
There in his casque the limpid stream he took ; But now behold the mournful hour at hand, Then sad and pensive hasten'd from the brook. In which the fates Clorinda's life demand. His hands now trembled, while her helm he Full at her bosom Tancred aim'd the sword
rear'd, The thirsty steel her lovely bosom gor'd: Ere yet the features of his fue appear'd ;The sanguine current stain'd with blushing He sees !-he knows ?-and senseless stands red
Yet still be lives, and rouz'd with holy zeal,
A smile of transport brighten'din her face,
A lovely paleness o'er her features flew;
15-SATURDAY, APRIL 19, 1828.
Her eyes to Heaven the dying virgin rais'd; seem that when a man's mind is so totally
him to carry that particular object of So life departing left her lovely breast ; pursuit to an extraordinary degree of perSo seem'd the virgin lull’d to silent rest. fection, it is necessarily abstracted from
so that it often happens that the faculty called common sense, which is
that of deliberately comparing with one Recollections of Books and another the objects that occur in common their Authors.
life, and drawing just inferences from
them, for regulating the ordinary transacLA FONTAINE THE SIMPLE.
tions of life, seems to be entirely obliterated
in these men. It is natural for those who read the La Fontaine, the celebrated fabulist, works of men of genius, to think that affords a remarkable illustration of the writers of such excellence should be en truth of this remark. Every person, the dowed with talents in every respect least conversant in French literature, is superior to the common run of mankind; acquainted with the writings of this author, nothing can be more delusive than such which possess, in an unequalled degree, expectations. Man is an imperfect crea an ease, an elegance, a natural, unaffectture, and though heaven sometimes con ed simplicity, both in thought and expresfers upon individuals, talents of a certain sion, that other writers have in vain kind in a super-eminent degree, it is seldom attempted to imitate. that any one man possesses a great variety though endowed with the faculty of writof talents in unusual perfection. It ing in a manner that no other person has oftener happens that men who are endow- yet been able to attain, was so deficient ed with the singular faculty of excelling in the article of common-sense, that, in in one kind of composition, are remark- the ordinary transactions of life, he was ably deficient in other respects. It would scarcely to be distinguished from an idiot.
Yet this man,
The following anecdotes of this singular One of his biographers has well said, genius can scarcely prove uninteresting to that though averse to restraint of any any one who wishes to become acquainted kind, yet, to oblige his parents, he“ sufwith the human character.
fered himself to be married;" and he Jean de la Fontaine, remarkable for was espoused to Mary Hericard, daughter carrying to its highest and most amusing of a lieutenant-general de la Ferte-Milon. pitch, the quality which the French bap- An anecdote of this marriage will display pily call naïveté, or nativeness, that is to his character in the truest and most say, a certain fresh taste of the most natu- amusing light. His wife, while he was ral and ingenuous feelings that are innate present with her, sufficed' him with her with us, was born at Chateau Thierry, beauty and wit, and he used to consult July the 20th, (3th 0. S.) 1621. He her on what he wrote, but the Duchess was of a gentle and easy disposition, de Bouillon, coming to Chateau Thierry, without pride, incapable of hatred, and and Fontaine being introduced to her and free from the passions which tyrannize pleasing her, he was tempted by her over the souls of most men. Happy society, and by the hope of getting among would it be for society, if it were composed the Parisian wits, to follow her to the only of men like him. It is true he did metropolis, where he made no more ado, not add to the pleasures of society in his but took up his abode there like a bacheown person, however much his writings lor. Soon after this step, a pension was contributed to that end. Those who saw procured for him; he was subsequently without knowing him, had no other idea in the service of Henrietta, Duchess of of him, than that of a man who was both Orleans the sister of our Charles the IInd, disagreeable and very tiresome. He and finally settled for twenty years in the spoke little, and unless the talk was of house of the witty Madame de la Sabliere, something to his liking, he remained in a who having one day discharged all her stupid silence, which any one unacquaint- servants in a pet, said “ she had retained with his genius would have taken for ed but three animals of her former estabconfirmed idiotism. If he told a tale, he lishment—her cat, her dog, and La related it lamely; and that author who Fontaine.” It was the same lady, who, had written stories so natural and so live in allusion to the apparent insensibility ly, interested nobody when he related with which he put forth the finest produc
There are other examples, which tions, called him “ the fable-bearing prove that with much wit, and a variety tree.” of talents, a man may not have the gist In the meanwhile, he had by no means of conversation.
quarrelled with his wife, but used to go Fontaine was well-educated, and, at down in the country to her every Septemnineteen, went among the Fathers of the ber, the lady perhaps being well contented Oratory, but left them soon afterwards. to pass the rest of her time as she pleased. His father, who was the forest-keeper of They were neither of them economical, and the district, put his son in his place, but whenever he made a visit, he used to he had less taste for business than for contrive to part with some piece of his polemics, and quitted the forest-hedges to family property in house or land, so that converse with the birds. His discovery a handsome estate was well nigh consumof the poetic faculty, however, was of a ed. Whether this, or any other of his piece with the rest of his simple and off- habits, produced a rupture, we cannot hand character : for he did not find it say; but we read of his being advised to out till his twenty-second year, when upon reconcile himself to Madame de la Fontaine accidentally hearing an ode of Malherbe's and of his going down in the country repeated, he was seized with a transport, for that purpose. which hurried him at once into the arms He set out, in consequence,
from Paris, of the Muses. He chose the wildest and in the public stage, arrived at his house, the giddiest, but by no means the least and asked for his wife. The servants who knowing of the family, retaining never did not know him, told him that his mistheless his personal character for extreme tress was at evening prayers. Fontaine stillness and simplicity. Of these appa- went directly to the house of a friend, rent contradictions, the phenomenon called who gave him supper and a bed, and La Fontaine, was ever after composed. kept him for two days; when the coach He was a good scholar, could be critical was ready to return to Paris, Fontaine with Quintilian, and romantically moral got into it, and thought no more of his with Plato; but his favourite authors wife. His friends were surprised to meet were the romancers and novelists of Italy, him so speedily in town again, and upon and such of his own countrymen as had asking him about his reconciliation, he given way to their animal spirits before replied, with his usual air of simplicity him, such as Rabelais and Marot. and sincerity, that “ he had been down
to see his wife, but was told that she was Fontaine had a son whom he kept but at church."
a very short time under his own care. He continued in the establishment of At fourteen years of age, he put him into Mad. de la Sabliere nearly twenty years. the hands of M. de Harley, who was A day or two after losing this generous afterwards First President, and recompatroness, he met his acquaintance, M. mended to him his education and his for. d'Hervart : “ My dear Fontaine," said tune. He went one day to a house where that worthy man to him, “ I have heard of his son was, but he did not know him : your misfortune, and was going to propose he told the company, however, that he your coming to live with me.” " I'was thought the lad had wit and taste : he was going to you," answered Fontaine, with then informed he was his son : “ Indeed," his usual naiveté.
said Fontaine, calmly : “ I am very glad There never was a man who believed of it.” what was told him so readily and impli He was seen one morning by Madame citly, witness his adventure with a captain de Bouillon, when on her way to Verof dragoons named Poignan. This officer sailles, sitting under a tree by the roadused to frequent the country house of side; on her return in the evening, there Fontaine, and was particularly pleased was La Fontaine in the same attitude, notwith the conversation of his wife, whose withstanding the day had been cold, and society was very agreeable. Poignan much rain had fallen! was neither of an age, humour, nor figure Another trait may further serve to shew to disturb the peace of a husband. How- that a man who applies himself to abstruse ever, some mischievous wits insinuated to studies, lives, as it were, out of the world Fontaine that all was not right at home, that he moves in. Hence those natural and that he was dishonoured, if he did and inattentive answers which so often not fight the captain. Struck with that furnish people of middling talents with idea, he gets up very early in the morn occasions for ridiculing genius. Fontaine ing, goes to the house of his man, wakens had received an invitation to attend the him, and bids him dress and follow him. funeral of a person of his acquaintance. Poignan, who knew not what all this He went; the lapse of a few days had meant, goes out with him like an obedient quite obliterated the recollection of his gentleman as he was: they arrive at a death, and he visited the same house, and remote corner of the city : “ I wish to informed the porter as he went in, that he fight with you-I have been advised to had come to dine with his master : the it," said Fontaine : he explains his rea- porter, astonished, said that his master son in very few words, draws his sword was dead and buried eight days ago : without waiting for Poignan's answer, “ God bless me,” replied the poet, and puts himself on the defensive. Thé he was, but I did not think that it had been combat is not long : the captain disarms so long." him at the first pass : Fontaine is satisfied, He was invited once to a dinner at a and Poignan conducts him home, and great house, in hopes of his contributing they are reconciled at breakfast.
to the company's intellectual enjoyment. It was difficult to restrain him sometimes He took the invitation however at its when on a particular subject. One day word; and did so much justice to the dining with Moliere and Despreanx, he dinner, that not a syllable could be got inveighed against the absurdity of making out of him. He even rose to go away, performers speak aside what is heard by when he had done eating, and upon being the stage and the whole house. Heated asked why he did so, said he had to atwith this idea, he would listen to no argu tend a sitting of the Academy. “ But it is ment. “ It cannot be denied,” exclaimed not time,” said they. Despreaux, in a loud key, " it cannot be
" but I always go soon. denied, that La Fontaine is a rogue, a great M. de la Fontaine,” returned the guests, rogue, a villain, a rascal, &c.” multiply " the Academy is only over the way.' ing his terms of abuse, and increasing the “Ah, so it is," replied he; loudness of his voice. Fontaine, without shall take the longest way then.” paying any regard to his abuse, went on Rabelais, whom Despreaux used to declaiming. At last the company's roar call “ Reason in a mask ;" was always of laughter recalled him to himself. the idol of Fontaine. He was the only “ What is this roar of laughter about ?” author whom he admired without reserve. said he. “ At what ?” said Despreaux, He was one day at Despreaux's house
why at you to be sure : you have not with Racine, Boileau, and other persons heard a word of the abuse which I have of distinguished merit.
There was a been bawling at your ears, yet you are good deal of discussion about the merits of surprised at the folly of supposing a per- St. Augustine and his works. Fontaine former not to hear what another actor did not join in the conversation, but kept whispers at the opposite side of the stage.”
16 Just so,
the most indifferent silence. At last he THE LADY OF GOLLERUS. awakened as from a profound sleep, and asked of the Abbé Boileau, if he thought « On the shore of Sinerwick harbour St. Augustine had as much wit as Rabe one fine summer's morning, just at day lais ? I'he Abbé, who seems to have had break, stood Dick Fitzgerald “ shoghing his brother's shrewdness, looking at him the dudeen,” which may be translated, from head to foot, said, "“ M. de la F n “smoking his pipe.” The sun was grataine, one of your stockings is wrong dually rising behind the lofty Brandon, side ouiwards," which was the case. the dark sea was getting green in the light,
Racine took him in the Holy week to a and the mists clearing away out of the Tenebros, and perceiving that the office valleys, went rolling and curling like the seemed long to him, to amuse his mind, smoke from the corner of Dick's mouth. he gave him a volume of the Bible which “ 'Tis just the pattern of a pretty morncontained the Prophets. He read the ing,” said Dick, taking the pipe from beprayer of the Jews in Baruch, and not tween his lips, and looking towards the being satisfied with merely admiring, he distant ocea:), which lay as still and transaid to Racine, “Baruch was a fine genius! quil as a tomb of polished marble. “Well who was he ?” For several days after to be sure,” cunti: ued he, after a pause, wards, when he met an acquaintance in " 'tis mighty lonesome to be talking to the streets, after the ordinary compli- one's self by way of company, and not ments, he raised his voice to say, “ Have to have another soul to answer one, nothing you read Baruch ?
He was a great but the child of one's own voice, the echo, genius!”
I know this, that if I had the luck, or may M. Racine, the son of the poet, who be the misfortune," said, with a melanwrote the memoirs of his great father, choly smile to have the woman, it would says of Fontaine, that after having con not be this way with me !-and what in sumed his fortune, he still preserved his the wide world is a man without a wife? disinterestedness.
He's no more surely than a bottle without He preferred the fables of the ancients a drop of drink in it, or dancing without to his own, which made Fontenelle say, music, or the left leg of a scissors, or a
Fontaine is foolish enough to think fishing-line without a hook, or any other that the ancients had more wit than him- matter that is no-ways complete. Is it not self," a phrase, says La Motte, which so ?” said Dick Fitzgerald, casting his expresses finely the character of a supe- eyes towards a rock upon the strand, which rior genius, who does not know himself, though it could not speak, stood up as firm for want of examining himself with suffi- and looked as bold as ever Kerry witness cient attention.
did. When the fables of La Motte appeared, But what was his astonishment at beholdit was fashionable in France to despise ing just at the foot of that rock, a beautiful them. One evening, at an entertainment young creature combing her hair, which given by the Prince de Vendome, several was of a sea-green colour, and now the of the first critics of the kingdom made salt water shining on it, appeared, in the themselves exceedingly merry at the ex- morning light, like melted butter upon pense of the author.
Voltaire happened cabbage. to be present : “Gentlemen, (said he,) Dick guessed at once that she was a I perfectly agree with you. What a dif- Mecrow, although he had never seen one ference there is between the style of La before, for he spied the cohuleen driuth, Motte, and the style of La Fontaine ! or little enchanted cap, which the sea peoHave you seen the new edition of the lat- ple use for diving down into the ocean, ter ?”
The company answered in the lying upon the strand, near her; and he negative. “ Then you have not read that had heard, that if once he could possess beautiful Fable of his, which was found himself of the cap, she would lose the among the papers of the Duchess of Bou- power of going away in the water, so he illon."
He accordingly repeated it to seized it with all speed, and she, hearing them. Every one present was charmed- the noise, turned her head about as natural transported with it. “ Here (said he,) is
as any Christian. the spirit of La Fontaine ;-here is nature When the Merrow saw that her living in her simplicity. What naïveté—what little diving cap was gone, the salt tears, grace !-Gentlemen, (resumed Voltaire,) -doubly salt, no doubt, from her-came You will find this Fable among those of trickling down her cheeks, and she began La Motte.” Confusion took possession a low mournful cry with just the tender of all but Voltaire, who was happy in voice of a new-born infant, Dick, although exposing the folly' of these pretended he knew well enough what she was crying judges.
for, determined to keep the cohuleen (To be Continued.)
driuth, let her cry never so much to see what luck would come out of it.