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Beside Elaine's song, there are three others in these new poems of Tennyson, which, by melody of verse, fineness of sentiment, and exactness of expression, assert their place with those matchless songs in “ The Princess.” May not these four serve, in some sort, as index to the “ Idyls of the King,” and as illustrative of their poetic excellence ? Enid's song of “ Fortune and her wheel ” may tell what poor estate and noble pride waited on her maidenhood, but recall also the equal dignity and steadfastness with which her wifely love patiently bore or joyfully met the turning fortunes of Geraint's frown or favor.
“ Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel, and lower the proud;
Turn thy wild wheel through sunshine, storm, and cloud ;
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.
Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.
For man is man, and master of his fate.
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate." Vivien's song of “ Trust me not at all, or all in all,” may summon the story of her harlot love, whose craft, feigning the persuasions of true affection, turns the wise man to a fool, and tempts Merlin, through his passion, to the loss of “life and use and name and fame.”
“ In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,
Faith and unfaith can ne'er be equal powers :
That by and by will make the music mute,
That rotting inward slowly moulders all.
But shall it? Answer, darling, answer, no.
Elaine's song of “Love and Death,” already quoted, may bring to mind that earlier swan-song of the Lady of Shalott,
"a carol, mournful, holy,
Turned to towered Camelot;.” and narrate in little the long story and all the bitter-sweet of her true love (but fatal) for Lancelot. And the novice's song to the Queen, of “ Late! so late!” may, in its long-drawn pleading and tearful lament of the foolish virgins, fixed in their doom of outer darkness, call up all Guinevere's guilty love, and her inexorable outlawry from Arthur's presence and from fair repute.
“ Late, late, so late! and dark the night and chill !
“ No light had we: for that we do repent;
And learning this, the bridegroom will relent.
Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.
O let us in, that we may find the light!
“ Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet ?
O let us in, though late, to kiss his feet!
No, no, too late! ye cannot enter now.” The charm of these lyrics is matched by the charm of the poems in which they are set. Since their midsummer publication, that charm has worked with many among the hills and at the sea-side, where the loveliness or sublimity of nature mingled with the grace and power of their art, and criticism had no place. Yet, with any surroundings, even he who is nothing if not critical must cease from his office in the presence of so full and pure an, enjoyment. It is the inherent purpose of the Idyls to give a refined and genial delight. And this they must continue to serve, with the large bounty of their joined poetic strength and beauty.
Art. V. - FRENCH PREACHERS.
Portraits Littéraires des plus Célèbres Prédicateurs contemporains, et
Etudes sur la Prédication au XIX Siècle. Par M. L'ABBÉ C. MARTIN. Paris. 1858. 8vo. pp. 384.
In a recent issue* we offered some views of the modern French pulpit, and discussed the general characteristics of French preaching. The discussion of that subject seems to require, as an appropriate supplement, some notice of the most eminent pulpit orators in France, both in the Catholic and Protestant churches. Very few of these are familiar, even by name, to American readers, and of not more than three or four have any works been translated. The great French preachers, if known at all beyond the limits of the Empire, are known only by the merest fragments of their sayings.. Channing is read by the Catholics of France, and their leading journals explain his views and illustrate his genius. But where is the Protestant journal, in England or America, which has taken heed of the recent loss to the French Church in the death of Father Ravignan, in every respect one of the most remarkable men of the present century, and comparable to. the best of Catholic saints ? The American press has given a selection from the sermons of Adolph Monod, that gentle and charitable mystic, the John of the Oratoire; but in vain we look for any account in our tongue of Colani of Strasburg, a far more able thinker and eloquent writer than Monod. The best French preachers are not the best known; and most of the names that we mention will doubtless seem wholly new.
We shall be compelled, in the limited space allowed us, to confine our notices of the eminent French preachers to a dozen names among the Catholics and a half-dozen among the Protestants, though this number by no means includes all who are worthy of mention. There are twenty preachers in Paris. alone who surpass, in all the qualities of good oratory, the Rev. Mr. Bellew and his associates, so graphically illustrated in the work of. Rev. Henry Christmas. The Basils and Chry
sostoms of London would be dull at St. Roch or Notre Dame. We shall restrict our notices to living preachers, omitting to speak even of the recent dead, whose eulogies have not ceased in the churches.
Of the Catholic preachers, the most famous, if not the most gifted, is the Dominican Lacordaire. We hardly know whether it is proper to class him among living preachers, since a loss of voice has practically excluded him from this function, and there seems to be but small prospect of his resuming his place in the pulpits of Paris. Excessive labors and hardships have worn upon a constitution never very firm, and at the age of fifty-seven he is an old man, and has outlived his power as a preacher. His life has been one of strange changes and inconsistencies. As a child, he was noted equally for his love of books and for his indifference to religion; and his profane jokes greatly disturbed the soul of his pious mother. At the college in Dijon, while he surpassed all his fellows and won all the prizes, he made no secret of his infidelity, and openly declared that Christianity was an absurdity and God a chimera. Admitted at nineteen years of age a partner with Guillemin, one of the leading lawyers of Paris, he startled this friend, at their first interview, by declaring that “ he did not believe in God.” • The ability and industry of the young advocate were compensation, however, for his scepticism. He made a most successful entrance upon his career at the bar, and great hopes were formed of his future eminence; nevertheless, some eighteen months after he began his practice as a lawyer, he startled his friend again by announcing that he had made up his mind to leave the law and become a priest, — that the former infidel was now a Christian and a Catholic. How the change had come he did not tell. But his resolution was taken; he entered, as a pensioner, the Seminary of St. Sulpice; and, after three years of diligent study, varied by frequent disputes with his teachers and his fellow-students, who marvelled at and feared his free style of discussion, he took priest's orders in 1827, and became the chaplain, first of a convent, and then of a college in Paris. At one time, like most ardent and wayward French youths, he thought of emigrating to America and finding occupation as a missionary to the Indians; but he was
persuaded by Lamennais, whose intimate friend he had become, to relinquish this Quixotic project, and join in the noble task of regenerating the Catholic Church at home. After the Revolution of July he became one of the leading contributors to Lamennais's new journal, “ The Future,” the motto of which was “ God and Liberty ;” and shortly after amazed the Royal Court of Paris by petitioning to be allowed to return to the bar, that he might plead there more effectually the cause of the Church. He did not propose to relinquish his priestly functions, but only to join the functions of his former and his present office. This novel request was vehemently discussed, but in the end very properly refused. The next eccentricity of Lacordaire, in which he had the help of Montalembert and De Coux, ardent and enthusiastic young men like himself, was the establishment of a “free school,” without leave or license, in which he proposed to give free education to children of both sexes and all classes, and save them from the immoral and infidel influences of the “ government schools.” The institution was opened, and pupils flocked to it from all quarters; when one day, in the midst of his class, Lacordaire was surprised by a visit from the commissary of police, with a notice to the pupils to disperse. A sharp conflict of words ensued; force was employed ; the school was broken up; a prosecution was ordered ; and, in spite of his brave and brilliant plea, the enthusiast had to pay a light fine as the penalty of his experiment.
In company with Lamennais, Lacordaire went to Rome in the year 1832, to vindicate their journal against the terrible sentence of the Pope. But instead of coming back, like his friend, a rebel and a foe to the Holy See, he came back a devoted servant, hastened to break friendship with the apostate, and to recant all his heretical opinions. He turned himself now to preaching, and with such success that in the year 1835 he was invited by the Archbishop to the pulpit of Notre Dame, the highest honor in this kind in France. The annual “ Conferences” of this cathedral are attended, not only by a large, but by a highly cultivated audience, composed of the social and literary aristocracy of Paris. To preach in such a presence was a severe ordeal for one so new in the work. But