vague yearning of modern idealism and all the poignant melancholy of modern regret; a poet intensely personal and sincere, with few but very noble ideas, and with a richness of diction and mastery of harmonious verse that must have seemed like witchcraft to the little rimers of the Empire.

He was not destined to be alone in greatness. The magnificent poetry of Hugo began with the publication of the Odes in 1822, and soon afterwards came the Poèmes Antiques et Modernes of Alfred de Vigny,-- first-fruits of a genius which only reached its full dignity many years later. The golden galleon of romance set all sail for Eldorado; Cromwell was published, with its polemical preface: and the simultaneous apparition of Hernani and the too famous pourpoint of Théophile Gautier showed the opponents of the new spirit, as a contemporary remarked, that the theatre had become the veritable abomination of desolation. Sainte- Beuve, himself a poet who had `died young', joined the cénacle, and his critical influence became apparent in the technique of the subsequent works of Hugo; and Alfred de Musset, the wayward, idle apprentice of the Romantic movement, amazed the world with Namouna.

After the first fervours of enthusiasm had waned, and when the battle was won and the Académie Francaise rose to the occasion with an honourable surrender, the conquerors began to set their house in order, and to define, though not to contract, the bounds of their own domain. There was a recrudescence of that spirit of orderliness which seems eternal in French literature; a new classical spirit, with none of the warping rules of the dead tradition, is apparent in the dignified restraint that all the great poets manifest in their treatment of the language. With Musset--to take as an instance the most irresponsible of them-- wild license has matured into noble freedom: and the Lettre à Lamartine and the Nuits express the most personal emotion with the utmost--with a classic--dignity. A kindred restraint gives Alfred de Vigny's later poems their austere grandeur:--

Depuis le premier jour de la création,
Les pieds lourds et puissants de chaque Destinée
Pesaient sur chaque tête et sur toute action.

Chaque front se courbait et traçait sa journée,
Comme le front d'un boeuf creuse un sillon profond
Sans dépasser la pierre où sa ligne est bornée.

Ces froides déités liaient le joug de plomb
Sur le crâne et les yeux des hommes leurs esclaves,
Tous errants, sans étoile, en un désert sans fond;

Levant avec effort leurs pieds chargés d'entraves,
Suivant le doigt d'airain dans le cercle fatal,
Le doigt des Volontés inflexibles et graves.

And we find the same quality in Hugo's mature work:--

Tout reposait dans Ur et dans Jérimadeth;
Les astres émaillaient le ciel profond et sombre;
Le croissant fin et clair parmi ces fleurs de l'ombre
Brillait à l'occident, et Ruth se demandait,

Immobile, ouvrant l'oeil à moitié sous ses voiles,
Quel dieu, quel moissonneur de l'éternel été
Avait, en s'en allant, négligemment jeté
Cette faucille d'or dans le champ des étoiles.

It was to majestic harmonies of this kind that the wild music of romance gradually developed. As regards subject, also, the great poets freed themselves from anything that was conventional in the Romantic revival; Hugo, allowing wrath to `embitter the sweet mouth of song', aired his political hatreds in Les Châtiments, and wrote the epic of the world in the Légende des Siècles; and the Vigny of Les Destinées, with his stoical pessimism and abiding idea of nature as la grande indifférente, seems very distant from the Vigny of Madame de Soubise.

S'il est vrai qu'au Jardin sacré des Ecritures
Le Fils de l'homme ait dit ce qu'on voit rapporté;
Muet, aveugle et sourd au cri des créatures,
Si le Ciel nous laissa comme un monde avorté,
Le juste opposera le dédain à l'absence,
Et ne répondra plus que par un froid silence
Au silence éternel de la Divinité.

It would require considerable ingenuity to trace the intimate connexion between these lines and the epoch that adored Hernani and sang Avez-vous vu dans Barcelone.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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