Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 129.djvu/28

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without any action of his own he found himself forced, he describes how he faced the tremendous mob of Paris for seventy hours, almost without repose, without sleep or food, when there was no other man in France bold enough or wise enough to take that supreme part; and ended by guiding that most aimless of revolutions to a peaceful conclusion, for the moment at least It was not Lamartine's fault that the empire came after him. Long before the day of the empire had come he had fallen from his momentary elevation, and lost all influence over his country. But his downfall cannot efface the fact that he did actually reign, and reign beneficently, subduing and controlling the excited nation, saving men's lives and the balance of society. We know no other poet who has had such a chance afforded him, and few men who have acquitted themselves so well in one of the most difficult and dangerous positions which it is possible for a man to hold.

The end of his life, which was spent obscurely, faded away amid many clouds; and it is better that we should not attempt to enter into that record of perpetual debt and shifting impecuniosity. The nation itself came, we think more than once, to the rescue of the poet; and he went on until his very end publishing and republishing, following reminiscence with reminiscence, in a feverish strain for money, which it is painful to contemplate. The causes of this we need not enter into; but, well endowed as his family had left him, sole heir of all the uncles and aunts who had sat heavily upon his early life, he died poor and deprived of almost everything. When a man has to come pitifully before the world and explain how, to retain Milly, he sells another bit of himself, another volume of "Confidences" to the eager bookseller—making, one feels, capital of the very sympathy excited—the situation is too painful and humbling to be dwelt upon. Lamartine's sun went down amid those clouds. But the man is dead, and his generation are disappearing off the scene, and France has perhaps more debts to him than she has ever been able to pay. He never led her intentionally astray, from one end of his career to the other. If his adoration of love is sometimes sickly, and his sentimentality maudlin, and the ideal world he framed a narrow and poor world, filled with but one monotonous strain of weak passion—it is at the same time a pure love which he idolizes, a virtuous ideal, which, according to his lights, he endeavours to set forth. And in his fugitive pieces there dwells often the very sweetness of the woods and fields—a homely gentle atmosphere of moral quiet and beauty. It is for these, and not for the exaggerated poetical maundering of his larger poems, that his name will be remembered in the world.

From The Cornhill Magazine.



The district that forms the southern horn of the Bay of Naples, with its orange-groves and vineyards, its aloes, olives and palms, its rocky hills, its white, glittering towns, its deep blue sea, its bare-legged fishermen and graceful, dark-eyed girls, has always been the very paradise of tourists. The faint, heavy scent of the orange-blossoms is wafted to you, as you sit in your balcony above the sea, on warm, moonlight nights; the tinkling of a guitar is heard from the distance, where somebody is singing "Santa Lucia" or "La Bella Sorrentina" before the door of one of the hotels; a long line of smoke is blown from Vesuvius towards the horizon; the lights of Naples wink and glitter on the other side of the bay; and presently (if you are inclined to pay for it) a little company of young men and maidens will come and dance the tarantella for you, till you are weary of watching so much activity in such a slumberous atmosphere.

There is no disappointment about this part of Italy. Pictures, poetry, books of travel—all that one has heard, seen, or read of this country—cannot have exaggerated its loveliness or idealized its perfection. The sky and sea are as blue and deep, the mountains as softly purple, and the vegetation as luxuriant as the most fervid imagination can have pictured them; the people are laughing, dancing, singing and chattering from morning till night; even when they work they seem to be only playing at toil, dragging up their nets, or tending their vines, as if only to make a pretty foreground to a picture. Life at Sorrento and Castellamare is, to quote the opinion of an enthusiastic French lady, as beautiful as a perpetual scene at the opera, and even more agreeable, as being free from the inconvenience of gas.

Tourists generally are apt to fall in, in some sort, with this way of thinking. Everything in this charming, perfumed, sensuous land is so full of pleasure, so