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A History of The Romantic Movement in France

by Henry A. Beers

The Romantic Movement in France.[1]

French romanticism had aspects of its own which distinguished it from the English and the German alike. It differed from the former and agreed with the latter in being organised. In France, as in Germany, there was a romantic school, whose members were united by common literary principles and by personal association. There were sharply defined and hostile factions of classics and romantics, with party cries, watchwords, and shibboleths; a propaganda carried on and a polemic waged in pamphlets, prefaces, and critical journals. Above all there was a leader. Walter Scott was the great romancer of Europe, but he was never the head of a school in his own country in the sense in which Victor Hugo was in France, or even in the sense in which the Schlegels were in Germany. Scott had imitators, but Hugo had disciples.

One point in which the French movement differed from both the English and the German was in the suddenness and violence of the outbreak. It was not so much a gradual development as a revolution, an explosion. The reason of this is to be found in the firmer hold which academic tradition had in France, the fountainhead of eighteenth-century classicism. Romanticism had a special work to do in the land of literary convention in asserting the freedom of art and the unity of art and life. Everything that is in life, said Hugo, is, or has a right to be in art. The French, in political and social matters the most revolutionary people of Europe, were the most conservative in matters of taste. The Revolution even intensified the reigning classicism by giving it a republican turn. The Jacobin orators appealed constantly to the examples of the Greek and Roman democracies. The Goddess of Reason was enthroned in place of God, Sunday was abolished, and the names of the months and of the days of the week were changed. Dress under the Directory was patterned on antique modes—the liberty cap was Phrygian—and children born under the Republic were named after Roman patriots, Brutus, Cassius, etc. The great painter of the Revolution was David,[2] who painted his subjects in togas, with backgrounds of Greek temples. Voltaire's classicism was monarchical and held to the Louis XIV. tradition; David's was republican. And yet the recognised formulae of taste and criticism were the same in 1800 as in 1775, or in 1675.

A second distinction of the French romanticism was its local concentration at Paris. The centripetal forces have always been greater in France than in England and Germany. The earlier group of German Romantiker was, indeed, as we have seen, united for a time at Jena and Berlin; and the Spätromantiker at Heidelberg. But this was dispersion itself as compared with the intense focussing of intellectual rays from every quarter of France upon the capital. In England, I hardly need repeat, there was next to no cohesion at all between the widely scattered men of letters whose work exhibited romantic traits.

In one particular the French movement resembled the English more nearly than the German. It kept itself almost entirely within the domain of art, and did not carry out its principles with German thoroughness and consistency into politics and religion. It made no efforts towards a practical restoration of the Middle Ages. At the beginning, indeed, French romanticism exhibited something analogous to the Toryism of Scott, and the reactionary Junkerism and neo-Catholicism of the Schlegels. Chateaubriand in his "Génie du Christianisme" attempted a sort of aesthetic revival of Catholic Christianity, which had suffered so heavily by the deistic teachings of the last century and the atheism of the Revolution. Victor Hugo began in his "Odes et Ballades" (1822) as an enthusiastic adherent of monarchy and the church. "L'histoire des hommes," he wrote, "ne présente de poésie que jugée du haut des idées monarchiques et religieuses." But he advanced quite rapidly towards liberalism both in politics and religion. And of the young men who surrounded him, like Gautier, Labrunie, Sainte-Beuve, Musset, De Vigny, and others, it can only be affirmed that they were legitimist or republican, Catholic or agnostic, just as it happened and without affecting their fidelity to the literary canons of the new school.[3] The German romanticism was philosophical; the French was artistic and social. The Parisian ateliers as well as the Parisian salons were nuclei of revolt against classical traditions. "This intermixture of art with poetry," says Gautier,[4] "was and remains one of the characteristic marks of the new school, and enables us to understand why its earliest recruits were found more among artists than among men of letters. A multitude of objects, images, comparisons, which were believed to be irreducible to words, entered into the language and have stayed there. The sphere of literature was enlarged, and now includes the sphere of art in its measureless circle." "At that time painting and poetry fraternised. The artists read the poets and the poets visited the artists. Shakspere, Dante, Goethe, Lord Byron, and Walter Scott were to be found in the studio as in the study. There were as many splotches of colour as of ink on the margins of those beautiful volumes that were so incessantly thumbed. Imaginations, already greatly excited by themselves, were heated to excess by the reading of those foreign writings of a colouring so rich, of a fancy so free and so strong. Enthusiasm mounted to delirium. It seemed as if we had discovered poetry, and that was indeed the truth. Now that this fine flame has cooled and that the positive-minded generation which possesses the world is preoccupied with other ideas, one cannot imagine what dizziness, what éblouissement was produced in us by such and such a picture or poem, which people nowadays are satisfied to approve by a slight nod of the head. It was so new, so unexpected, so lively, so glowing!" [5]

The romantic school in France had not only its poets, dramatists, and critics, but its painters, architects, sculptors, musical composers, and actors. The romantic artist par excellence was Eugène Delacroix, the painter of "The Crusaders Entering Jerusalem." "The Greeks and Romans had been so abused by the decadent school of David that they fell into complete disrepute at this time. Delacroix's first manner was purely romantic, that is to say, he borrowed nothing from the recollections or the forms of the antique. The subjects that he treated were relatively modern, taken from the history of the Middle Ages, from Dante, Shakspere, Goethe, Lord Byron, or Walter Scott." He painted "Hamlet," "The Boat of Dante," "Tasso in Bedlam," "Marino Faliero," "The Death of Sardanapalus," "The Combat of the Giaour and the Pasha," "The Massacre of the Bishop of Liége," and similar subjects. Goethe in his conversations with Eckerman expressed great admiration of Delacroix's interpretations of scenes in "Faust" (the brawl in Auerbach's cellar, and the midnight ride of Faust and Mephistopheles to deliver Margaret from prison). Goethe hoped that the French artist would go on and reproduce the whole of "Faust," and especially the sorceress' kitchen and the scenes on the Brocken. Other painters of the romantic school were Camille Roqueplan, who treated motives drawn from "The Antiquary" and other novels of Walter Scott;[6] and Eugène Devéria, whose "Birth of Henry IV.," executed in 1827, when the artist was only twenty-two years of age, was a masterpiece of colouring and composition. The house of the Devéria brothers was one of the rallying points of the Parisian romanticists. And then there was Louis Boulanger, who painted "Mazeppa" and "The Witches' Sabbath" ("La Ronde du Sabbat" [7]); and the water-colour painter and engraver, Celestin Nanteuil, who furnished innumerable designs for vignettes, frontispieces, and book illustrations to the writers of the romantic school.

"Of all the arts," says Gautier, "the one that lends itself least to the expression of the romantic idea is certainly sculpture. It seems to have received from antiquity its definitive form. . . . What can the statuary art do without the gods and heroes of mythology who furnish it with plausible pretexts for the nude, and for such drapery as it needs; things which romanticism prescribes, or did at least prescribe at that time of its first fervour? Every sculptor is of necessity a classic." [8] Nevertheless, he says that the romantic school was not quite unprovided of sculptors. "In our inner circle (cénacle), Jehan du Seigneur represented this art, austere and rebellious to the fancy. . . . Jehan du Seigneur—let us leave in his name of Jean this mediaeval h which made him so happy and made him believe that he wore the apron of Ervein of Steinbach at work on the sculptures of Strasburg minster." Gautier mentions among the productions of this Gothic-minded statuary an "Orlando Furioso," a bust of Victor Hugo, and a group from the latter's romance, "Notre Dame de Paris," the gipsy girl Esmeralda giving a drink to the humpback Quasimodo. It was the endeavour of the new school, in the arts of design as well as in literature, to introduce colour, novelty, picturesqueness, character. They studied the great Venetian and Flemish colourists, neglected under the reign of David, and "in the first moments of their fury against le poncif classique, they seemed to have adopted the theory of art of the witches in 'Macbeth'—Fair is foul and foul is fair",[9] i.e., they neglected a traditional beauty in favour of the characteristic. "They sought the true, the new, the picturesque perhaps more than the ideal; but this reaction was certainly permissible after so many Ajaxes, Achilleses, and Philocteteses."

It is not quite so easy to understand what is meant by romanticism in music as in literature. But Gautier names a number of composers as adhering to the romantic school, among others, Hippolyte Monpon, who set to music "the leaping metres, the echo-rimes, the Gothic counter-points of Hugo's 'Odes et Ballades' and songs like Musset's 'L'Andalouse'—

"'Avez vous vu dans Barcelone,'

"He believed like us in serenades, alcaldes, mantillas, castinets; in all that Italy and that Spain, a trifle conventional, which was brought into fashion by the author of 'Don Paëz,' of 'Portia,' and of the 'Marchioness of Amalgui,' . . . 'Gastibelza, the Man with the Carabine,' and that guitar, so profoundly Spanish, of Victor Hugo, had inspired Monpon with a savage, plaintive air, of a strange character, which long remained popular, and which no romanticist—if any such is left—has forgotten." A greater name than Monpon was Hector Berlioz, the composer of "Romeo and Juliette" and "The Damnation of Faust." Gautier says that Berlioz represented the romantic idea in music, by virtue of his horror of common formulas, his breaking away from old models, the complex richness of his orchestration, his fidelity to local colour (whatever that may mean in music), his desire to make his art express what it had never expressed before, "the tumultuous and Shaksperian depth of the passions, reveries amorous or melancholy, the longings and demands of the soul, the indefinite and mysterious feelings which words cannot render." Berlioz was a passionate lover of German music and of the writings of Shakspere, Goethe, and Scott. He composed overtures to "Waverley," "King Lear," and "Rob Roy"; a cantata on "Sardanapalus," and music for the ghost scene in "Hamlet" and for Goethe's ballad, "The Fisher." He married an English actress whom he had seen in the parts of Ophelia, Portia, and Cordelia. Berlioz en revanche was better appreciated in Germany than in France, where he was generally considered mad; where his "Symphonic fantastique" produced an effect analogous to that of the first pieces of Richard Wagner; and where "the symphonies of Beethoven were still thought barbarous, and pronounced by the classicists not to be music, any more than the verses of Victor Hugo were poetry, or the pictures of Delacroix painting." And finally there were actors and actresses who came to fill their roles in the new romantic dramas, of whom I need mention only Madame Dorval, who took the part of Hugo's Marion Delorme. What Gautier tells us of her is significant of the art that she interpreted, that her acting was by sympathy, rather than calculation; that it was intensely emotional; that she owed nothing to tradition; her tradition was essentially modern, dramatic rather than tragic.[10]

Romanticism in France was, in a more special sense than in Germany and England, an effort for freedom, passion, originality, as against rule, authority, convention. "Romanticism," says Victor Hugo,[11] "so many times poorly defined, is nothing else than liberalism in literature. . . . Literary liberty is the child of political liberty. . . . After so many great things which our fathers have done and which we have witnessed, here we are, issued forth from old forms of society; why should we not issue out of the old forms of poetry? A new people, a new art. While admiring the literature of Louis XIV., so well adapted to his monarchy, France will know how to have its own literature, peculiar, personal, and national—this actual France, this France of the nineteenth century to which Mirabeau has given its freedom and Napoleon its power." And again:[12] "What I have been pleading for is the liberty of art as against the despotism of systems, codes, and rules. It is my habit to follow at all hazards what I take for inspiration, and to change the mould as often as I change the composition. Dogmatism in the arts is what I avoid above all things. God forbid that I should aspire to be of the number of those, either romantics or classics, who make works according to their system; who condemn themselves never to have more than one form in mind, to always be proving something, to follow any other laws than those of their organization and of their nature. The artificial work of such men as those, whatever talents they may possess, does not exist for art. It is a theory, not a poetry." It is manifest that a literary reform undertaken in this spirit would not long consent to lend itself to the purposes of political or religious reaction, or to limit itself to any single influence like mediaevalism, but would strike out freely in a multitude of directions; would invent new forms and adapt old ones to its material, and would become more and more modern, various, and progressive. And such, in fact, was the history of Victor Hugo's intellectual development and of the whole literary movement in France which began with him and with De Stendhal (Henri Beyle). This assertion of the freedom of the individual artist was naturally accompanied with certain extravagances. "To develop freely all the caprices of thought," says Gautier,[13] "even if they shocked taste, convention, and rule, to hate and repel to the utmost what Horace calls the profanum vulgus, and what the moustached and hairy rapins call grocers, philistines, or bourgeois; to celebrate love with warmth enough to burn the paper (that they wrote on); to set it up as the only end and only means of happiness; to sanctify and deify art, regarded as a second creator; such are the données of the programme which each sought to realise according to his strength; the ideal and the secret postulations of the young romanticists."

Inasmuch as the French romantic school, even more than the English and the German, was a breach with tradition and an insurrection against existing conditions, it will be well to notice briefly what the particular situation was which the romanticists in France confronted. "To understand what this movement was and what it did," says Saintsbury,[14] "we must point out more precisely what were the faults of the older literature, and especially of the literature of the late eighteenth century. They were, in the first place, an extremely impoverished vocabulary, no recourse being had to the older tongue for picturesque archaisms, and little welcome being given to new phrases, however appropriate and distinct. In the second place, the adoption, especially in poetry, of an exceedingly conventional method of speech, describing everything where possible by an elaborate periphrasis, and avoiding direct and simple terms. Thirdly, in all forms of literature, but especially in poetry and drama, the acceptance for almost every kind of work of cut-and-dried patterns,[15] to which it was bound to conform. We have already pointed out that this had all but killed the tragic drama, and it was nearly as bad in the various accepted forms of poetry, such as fables, epistles, odes, etc. Each piece was expected to resemble something else, and originality was regarded as a mark of bad taste and insufficient culture. Fourthly, the submission to a very limited and very arbitrary system of versification, adapted only to the production of tragic alexandrines, and limiting even that form of verse to one monotonous model. Lastly, the limitation of the subject to be treated to a very few classes and kinds." If to this description be added a paragraph from Gautier's "Histoire du Romantisme," we shall have a sufficient idea of the condition of French literature and art before the appearance of Victor Hugo's "Odes et Ballades" (1826). "One cannot imagine to what a degree of insignificance and paleness literature had come. Painting was not much better. The last pupils of David were spreading their wishywashy colours over the old Graeco-Roman patterns. The classicists found that perfectly beautiful; but in the presence of these masterpieces, their admiration could not keep them from putting their hands before their mouths to cover a yawn; a circumstance, however, that failed to make them any more indulgent to the artists of the new school, whom they called tattooed savages and accused of painting with a drunken broom." One is reminded by Mr. Saintsbury's summary of many features which we have observed in the English academicism of the eighteenth century; the impoverished vocabulary, e.g., which makes itself evident in the annotations on the text of Spenser and other old authors; the horror of common terms, and the constant abuse of the periphrasis—the "gelid cistern," the "stercoraceous heap," the "spiculated palings," and the "shining leather that encased the limb." And the heroic couplet in English usage corresponds very closely to the French alexandrine. In their dissatisfaction with the paleness and vagueness of the old poetic diction, and the monotony of the classical verse, the new school innovated boldly, introducing archaisms, neologisms, and all kinds of exotic words and popular locutions, even argot or Parisian slang; and trying metrical experiments of many sorts. Gautier mentions in particular one Théophile Dondey (who, after the fashion of the school, anagrammatised his name into Philothée O'Neddy) as presenting this caractère d'outrance et de tension. "The word paroxyste, employed for the first time by Nestor Roqueplan, seems to have been invented with an application to Philothée. Everything is poussé in tone, high-coloured, violent, carried to the utmost limits of expression, of an aggressive originality, almost dripping with the unheard-of (ruissilant d'inouïsme); but back of the double-horned paradoxes, sophistical maxims, incoherent metaphors, swoln hyperboles, and words six feet long, are the poetic feeling of the time and the harmony of rhythm." One hears much in the critical writings of that period, of the mot propre, the vers libre, and the rime brisé. It was in tragedy especially that the periphrasis reigned most tyrannically, and that the introduction of the mot propre, i.e., of terms that were precise, concrete, familiar, technical even, if needful, horrified the classicists. It was beneath the dignity of the muse—the elegant muse of the Abbé Delille—Hugo tells us, to speak naturally. "She underlines," in sign of disapprobation, "the old Corneille for his way of saying crudely

"'Ah, ne me brouillez pas avec la république.'

"She still has heavy on her heart his Tout beau, monsieur. And many a seigneur and many a madame was needed to make her forgive our admirable Racine his chiens so monosyllabic. . . . History in her eyes is in bad tone and taste. How, for example, can kings and queens who swear be tolerated? They must be elevated from their royal dignity to the dignity of tragedy. . . . It is thus that the king of the people (Henri IV.) polished by M. Legouvé, has seen his ventre-saint-gris shamefully driven from his mouth by two sentences, and has been reduced, like the young girl in the story, to let nothing fall from this royal mouth, but pearls, rubies, and sapphires—all of them false, to say the truth." It seems incredible to an Englishman, but it is nevertheless true that at the first representations of "Hernani" in 1830, the simple question and answer

"Est il minuit?—Minuit bientot"

raised a tempest of hisses and applause, and that the opposing factions of classics and romantics "fought three days over this hemistich. It was thought trivial, familiar, out of place; a king asks what time it is like a common citizen, and is answered, as if he were a farmer, midnight. Well done! Now if he had only used some fine periphrasis, e.g.:

"——l'heure Atteindra bientot sa dernière demeure.[16]

"If they could not away with definite words in the verse, they endured very impatiently, too, epithets, metaphors, comparisons, poetic words—lyricism, in short; those swift escapes into nature, those soarings of the soul above the situation, those openings of poetry athwart drama, so frequent in Shakspere, Calderon, and Goethe, so rare in our great authors of the eighteenth century." Gautier gives, as one reason for the adherence of so many artists to the romantic school, the circumstance that, being accustomed to a language freely intermixed with technical terms, the mot propre had nothing shocking for them; while their special education as artists having put them into intimate relation with nature, "they were prepared to feel the imagery and colours of the new poetry and were not at all repelled by the precise and picturesque details so disagreeable to the classicists. . . . You cannot imagine the storms that broke out in the parterre of the Théâtre Français, when the 'Moor of Venice,' translated by Alfred de Vigny, grinding his teeth, reiterated his demands for that handkerchief (mouchoir) prudently denominated bandeau (head-band, fillet) in the vague Shakspere imitation of the excellent Ducis. A bell was called 'the sounding brass'; the sea was 'the humid element,' or 'the liquid element,' and so on. The professors of rhetoric were thunderstruck by the audacity of Racine, who in the 'Dream of Athalie' had spoken of dogs as dogs—molossi would have been better—and they advised young poets not to imitate this license of genius. Accordingly the first poet who wrote bell (cloche) committed an enormity; he exposed himself to the risk of being cut by his friends and excluded from society." [17]

As to the alexandrine, the recognised verse of French tragedy, Victor Hugo tells us,[18] that many of the reformers, wearied by its monotony, advocated the writing of plays in prose. He makes a plea, however, for the retention of the alexandrine, giving it greater richness and suppleness by the displacement of the caesura, and the free use of enjambement or run-over lines; just as Leigh Hunt and Keats broke up the couplets of Pope into a freer and looser form of verse. "Hernani" opened with an enjambement

  "Serait ce déja lui? C'est bien à l'escalier

This was a signal of fight—a challenge to the classicists—and the battle began at once, with the very first lines of the play.[19] In his dramas Hugo used the alexandrine, but in his lyric poems, his wonderful resources as a metrist were exhibited to the utmost in the invention of the most bizarre, eccentric, and original verse forms. An example of this is the poem entitled "The Djinns" included in "Les Orientales" (1829). The coming and going of the flying cohort of spirits is indicated by the crescendo effect of the verse, beginning with a stanza in lines of two syllables, rising gradually to the middle stanza of the poem in lines of ten syllables, and then dying away by exactly graded diminutions to the final stanza:

  "On doute
  La nuit—
  Tout fuit,
  Tout passe:
  Le bruit." [20]

But the earlier volume of "Odes et Ballades" (1826) offers many instances of metrical experiments hardly less ingenious. In "La Chasse du Burgrave" every rime is followed by an echo word, alike in sound but different in sense:

  "Il part, et Madame Isabelle,
  Dit gaiement du haut des remparts:
  Tous las chasseurs sont dans la plaine,
  D'ardents seigneurs, de sénéchaux

The English reader is frequently reminded by Hugo's verses of the queer, abrupt, and outré measures, and fantastic rimes of Robert Browning. Compare with the above, e.g., his "Love among the Ruins."

  "Where the quiet coloured end of evening smiles
        Miles and miles
  On the solitary pastures where our sheep,
        Half asleep," etc.

From the fact, already pointed out, that the romantic movement in France was, more emphatically than in England and Germany, a breach with the native literary tradition, there result several interesting peculiarities. The first of these is that the new French school, instead of fighting the classicists with weapons drawn from the old arsenal of mediaeval France, went abroad for allies; went especially to the modern writers of England and Germany. This may seem strange when we reflect that French literature in the Middle Ages was the most influential in Europe; and that, from the old heroic song of Roland in the eleventh century down to the very popular court allegory, the "Roman de la Rose", in the fourteenth, and to the poems of Villon in the fifteenth, it afforded a rich treasure-house of romantic material in the shape of chronicles, chansons de geste, romans d'aventures, fabliaux, lais, legends of saints, homilies, miracles, songs, farces, jeuspartis, pastourelles, ballades—of all the literary forms in fact which were then cultivated. Nor was this mass of work entirely without influence on the romanticists of 1830. Théophile Dondey, wrote a poem on Roland, and Gérard de Nerval (Labrunie) hunted up the old popular songs and folklore of Touraine and celebrated their naïveté and truly national character. Attention was directed to the Renaissance group of poets who preceded the Louis XIV. writers—to Ronsard and "The Pleiade." Later the Old French Text Society was founded for the preservation and publication of mediaeval remains. But in general the innovating school sought their inspiration in foreign literatures. Antony Deschamps translated the "Inferno"; Alfred de Vigny translated "Othello" as the "Moor of Venice" (1829), and wrote a play on the story of Chatterton,[21] and a novel, "Cinq Mars," which is the nearest thing in French literature to the historical romances of Scott.[22] Chateaubriand and Victor Hugo were both powerfully impressed by Macpherson's "Ossian." Gérard de Nerval made, at the age of eighteen, a translation of "Faust" (1828), which Goethe read with admiration, and wrote to the translator, saying that he had never before understood his own meaning so well. "It was a difficult task at that time," says Gautier, "to render into our tongue, which had become excessively timid, the bizarre and mysterious beauties of this ultra-romantic drama. . . . From his familiarity with Goethe, Uhland, Bürger and L. Tieck, Gérard retained in his turn of mind a certain dreamy tinge which sometimes made his own works seem like translations of unknown poets beyond the Rhine. . . . The sympathies and the studies of Gérard de Nerval drew him naturally towards Germany, which he often visited and where he made fruitful sojourns; the shadow of the old Teutonic oak hovered more than once above his brow with confidential murmurs; he walked under the lindens with their heart-shaped leaves; on the margin of fountains he saluted the elf whose white robe trails a hem bedewed by the green grass; he saw the ravens circling around the mountain of Kyffhausen; the kobolds came out before him from the rock clefts of the Hartz, and the witches of the Brocken danced their grand Walpurgisnight round about the young French poet, whom they took for a Jena student. . . . He knows how to blow upon the postillion's horn,[23] the enchanted melodies of Achim von Arnim and Clement Brentano; and if he stops at the threshold of an inn embowered in hop vines, the Schoppen becomes in his hands the cup of the King of Thule." Among the French romanticists of Hugo's circle there was a great enthusiasm for wild German ballads like Bürger's "Lenore" and Goethe's "Erl-King." The translation of A. W. Schlegel's "Vorlesungen über Dramatische Kunst und Litteratur," by Madame Necker de Saussure, in 1814, was doubtless the first fruits of Madame de Staël's "Allemagne," published the year before. Gautier himself and his friend Augustus Mac-Keat (Auguste Maguet) collaborated in a drama founded on Byron's "Parisina." "Walter Scott was then in the full flower of his success. People were being initiated into the mysteries of Goethe's 'Faust,' . . . and discovering Shakspere under the translation, a little dressed up, of Letourneur; and the poems of Lord Byron, 'The Corsair,' 'Lara,' 'The Giaour,' 'Manfred,' 'Beppo,' 'Don Juan,' were coming to us from the Orient, which had not yet grown commonplace." Gautier said that in le petit cénacle—the inner circle of the initiated—if you admired Racine more than Shakspere and Calderon, it was an opinion that you would do well to keep to yourself. "Toleration is not the virtue of neophytes." As for himself, who had set out as a painter—and only later deviated into letters—he was all for the Middle Ages: "An old iron baron, feudal, ready to take refuge from the encroachments of the time, in the castle of Goetz von Berlichingen." Of Bouchardy, the extraordinary author of "Le Sonneur de Saint Paul," who "was to Hugo what Marlowe was to Shakspere"—and who was playfully accused of making wooden models of the plots of his melodramas—Gautier says that he "planned his singular edifice in advance, like a castle of Anne Radcliffe, with donjon, turrets, underground chambers, secret passages, corkscrew stairs, vaulted halls, mysterious closets, hiding places in the thickness of the walls, oubliettes, charnel-houses, crypts where his heroes and heroines were to meet later on, to love, hate, fight, set ambushes, assassinate, or marry. . . . He cut masked doors in the walls for his expected personage to appear through, and trap doors in the floor for him to disappear through."

The reasons for this resort to foreign rather than native sources of inspiration are not far to seek. The romantic movement in France was belated; it was twenty or thirty years behind the similar movements in England and Germany. It was easier and more natural for Stendhal or Hugo to appeal to the example of living masters like Goethe and Scott, whose works went everywhere in translation and who held the ear of Europe, than to revive an interest all at once in Villon or Guillaume de Lorris or Chrestien de Troyes. Again, in no country had the divorce between fashionable and popular literature been so complete as in France; in none had so thick and hard a crust of classicism overlain the indigenous product of the national genius. It was not altogether easy for Bishop Percy in 1765 to win immediate recognition from the educated class for Old English minstrelsy; nor for Herder and Bürger in 1770 to do the same thing for the German ballads. In France it would have been impossible before the Bourbon restoration of 1815. In England and in Germany, moreover, the higher literature had always remained more closely in touch with the people. In both of those countries the stock of ballad poetry and folklore was much more extensive and important than in France, and the habit of composing ballads lasted later. The only French writers of the classical period who produced anything at all analogous to the German "Mährchen" were Charles Perrault, who published between 1691-97 his famous fairy tales, including "Blue Beard," "The Sleeping Beauty," "Little Red Riding-Hood," "Cinderella," and "Puss in Boots"; and the Countess d'Aulnoy (died 1720), whose "Yellow Dwarf" and "White Cat" belong to the same department of nursery tales.[24]

A curious feature of French romanticism was the way in which the new-found liberty of art asserted itself in manners, costume, and personal habits. Victor Hugo himself was scrupulously correct and subdued in dress, but his young disciples affected bright colours and rich stuffs. They wore Spanish mantillas, coats with large velvet lapels, pointed doublets or jerkins of satin or damask velvet in place of the usual waistcoat, long hair after the Merovingian fashion, and pointed beards. We have seen that Shenstone was regarded as an eccentric, and perhaps somewhat dangerous, person when at the university, because he wore his own hair instead of a wig. In France, half a century later, not only the perruque, but the menton glabre was regarded as symptomatic of the classicist and the academician; while the beard became a badge of romanticism. At the beginning of the movement, Gautier informs us, "there were only two full beards in France, the beard of Eugène Devéria and the beard of Petrus Borel. To wear them required a courage, a coolness, and a contempt for the crowd truly heroic. . . . It was the fashion then is the romantic school to be pale, livid, greenish, a trifle cadaverous, if possible. It gave one an air of doom, Byronic, giaourish, devoured by passion and remorse." It will be remembered that the rolling Byronic collar, open at the throat, was much affected at one time by young persons of romantic temperament in England; and that the conservative classes, who adhered to the old-fashioned stock and high collar, looked askance upon these youthful innovators as certainly atheists and libertines, and probably enemies to society—would-be corsairs or banditti. It is interesting, therefore, to discover that in France, too, the final touch of elegance among the romantics was not to have any white linen in evidence; the shirt collar, in particular, being "considered as a mark of the grocer, the bourgeois, the philistine." A certain gilet rouge which Gautier wore when he led the claque at the first performance of "Hernani" has become historic. This flamboyant garment—a defiance and a challenge to the academicians who had come to hiss Hugo's play—was, in fact, a pourpoint or jerkin of cherry-coloured satin, cut in the shape of a Milanese cuirass, pointed, busked, and arched in front, and fastened behind the back with hooks and eyes. From the imperturbable disdain with which the wearer faced the opera-glasses and laughter of the assembly it was evident that it would not have taken much urging to induce him to come to the second night's performance decked in a daffodil waistcoat.[25] The young enthusiasts of le petit cénacle carried their Byronism so far that, in imitation of the celebrated revels at Newstead, they used to drink from a human skull in their feasts at le Petit Moulin Rouge. It had belonged to a drum-major, and Gérard de Nerval got it from his father, who had been an army surgeon. One of the neophytes, in his excitement, even demanded that it be filled with sea water instead of wine, in emulation of the hero of Victor Hugo's novel, "Han d'Islande," who "drank the water of the seas in the skull of the dead." Another caput mortuum stood on Hugo's mantelpiece in place of a clock.[26] "If it did not tell the hour, at least it made us think of the irreparable flight of time. It was the verse of Horace translated into romantic symbolism." There was a decided flavour of Bohemianism about the French romantic school, and the spirit of the lives which many of them led may best be studied in Merger's classic, "La Vie de Boheme." [27]

As another special feature of French romanticism, we may note the important part taken by the theatre in the history of the movement. The stage was the citadel of classical prejudice, and it was about it that the fiercest battles were fought. The climacteric year was 1830, in which year Victor Hugo's tragedy, "Hernani, or Castilian Honour," was put on at the Theatre Français on February 25th, and ran for thirty nights. The representation was a fight between the classics and the romantics, and there was almost a mob in the theatre. The dramatic censorship under Charles X., though strict, was used in the interest of political rather than aesthetic orthodoxy. But it is said that some of the older Academicians actually applied to the king to forbid the acting of "Hernani." Gautier has given a mock-heroic description of this famous literary battle quorum pars magna fuit. He had received from his college friend, Gérard de Nerval—who had been charged with the duty of drumming up recruits for the Hugonic claque—six tickets to be distributed only to tried friends of the cause—sure men and true. The tickets themselves were little squares of red paper, stamped in the corner with a mysterious countersign—the Spanish word hierro, iron, not only symbolizing the hero of the drama, but hinting that the ticket-holder was to bear himself in the approaching fray frankly, bravely, and faithfully like the sword. The proud recipient of these tokens of confidence gave two of them to a couple of artists—ferocious romantics, who would gladly have eaten an Academician, if necessary; two he gave to a brace of young poets who secretly practised la rime riche, le mot propre, and la metaphore exacte: the other two he reserved for his cousin and himself. The general attitude of the audience on the first nights was hostile, "two systems, two parties, two armies, two civilizations even—it is not saying too much—confronted one another, . . . and it was not hard to see that yonder young man with long hair found the smoothly shaved gentleman opposite a disastrous idiot; and that he would not long be at pains to conceal his opinion of him." The classical part of the audience resented the touches of Spanish local colour in the play, the mixture of pleasantries and familiar speeches with the tragic dialogue, and of heroism and savagery in the character of Hernani, and they made all manner of fun of the species of pun—de ta suite, j'en suis—which terminated the first act. "Certain lines were captured and recaptured, like disputed redoubts, by each army with equal obstinacy. On one day the romantics would carry a passage, which the enemy would retake the next day, and from which it became necessary to dislodge them. What uproar, what cries, cat-calls, hisses, hurricanes of bravos, thunders of applause! The heads of parties blackguarded each other like Homer's heroes before they came to blows. . . . For this generation 'Hernani' was what the 'Cid' was for the contemporaries of Corneille. All that was young, brave, amorous, poetic, caught the inspiration of it. Those fine exaggerations, heroic, Castilian, that superb Spanish emphasis; that language so proud and high even in its familiarity, those images of a dazzling strangeness, threw us into an ecstasy and intoxicated us with their heady poetry." The victory in the end was with the new school. Musset, writing in 1838, says that the tragedies of Corneille and Racine had disappeared from the French stage for ten years.

Another triumphant battlefield—a veritable fête romantique—was the first representation in 1831 of Alexandre Dumas' "Anthony." "It was an agitation, a tumult, an effervescence. . . . The house was actually delirious; it applauded, sobbed, wept, shouted. A certain famous green coat was torn from the author's back and rent into shreds by his too ardent admirers, who wanted pieces of it for memorabilia." [28]

The English reader who hears of the stubborn resistance offered to the performance of 'Hernani' will naturally suppose that there must have been something about it contrary to public policy—some immorality, or some political references, at least, offensive to the government; and he will have a difficulty in understanding that the trouble was all about affairs purely literary. "Hernani" was fought because it violated the unities of place and time; because its hero was a Spanish bandit; because in the dialogue a spade was called a spade, and in the verse the lines overlap. The French are often charged with frivolity in matters of conduct, but to the discussion of matters of art they bring a most serious conscience. The scene in "Hernani" shifts from Saragossa to the castle of Don Ruy Gomez de Silva in the mountains of Arragon, and to the tomb of Charlemagne at Aix-la-Chapelle. The time of the action, though not precisely indicated, covers at least a number of months. The dialogue is, in many parts, nervous, simple, direct, abrupt; in others running into long tirades and soliloquies, rich with all the poetic resources of the greatest poet who has ever used the French tongue. The spirit of the drama, as well as its form, is romantic. The point of honour is pushed to a fantastic excess; all the characters display the most delicate chivalry, the noblest magnanimity, the loftiest Castilian pride. Don Ruy Gomez allows the King to carry off his bride, rather than yield up the outlaw who has taken refuge in his castle; and that although he has just caught this same outlaw paying court to this same bride, whose accepted lover he is. Hernani, not to be outdone in generosity, offers his life to his enemy and preserver, giving him his horn and promising to come to meet his death at its summons. There is the same fault here which is felt in Hugo's novels. Motives are exaggerated, the dramatis personae strut. They are rather over-dramatic in their poses—-melodramatic, in fact—and do unlikely things. But this fault is the fault of a great nature, grandeur exalted into grandiosity, till the heroes of these plays, "Hernani," "Marion Delorme," "Le Roi d'Amuse," loom and stalk across the scene like epic demigods of more than mortal stature and mortal passions. But Hugo was not only a great dramatist and a great poet, but a most clever playwright. "Hernani" is full of effective stage devices, crises in the action which make an audience hold its breath or shudder; moments of intense suspense like that in the third act, where the old hidalgo pauses before his own portrait, behind which the outlaw is hidden; or that in the fifth, where Hernani hears at first, faint and far away, the blast of the fatal horn that summons him to leave his bride at the altar and go to his death. The young romantics of the day all got "Hernani" by heart and used to rehearse it at their assemblies, each taking a part; and the famous trumpet, the cor d'Hernani, became a symbol and a rallying call.

No such scene would have been possible in an English playhouse as that which attended the first representation of "Hernani" at the Théâtre Français. For not only is an English audience comparatively indifferent to rules of art and canons of taste, but the unities had never prevailed in practice in England, though constantly recommended in theory. The French had no Shakspere, and the English no Academy. We may construct an imaginary parallel to such a scene if we will suppose that all reputable English tragedies from 1600 down to 1830 had been something upon the model of Addison's "Cato" and Johnson's "Irene", or better still upon the model of Dryden's heroic plays in rimed couplets; and that then a drama like "Romeo and Juliet" had been produced upon the boards of Drury Lane, and a warm spurt of romantic poetry suddenly injected into the icy current of classic declamation.

Having considered the chief points in which the French romantic movement differed from the similar movements in England and Germany, let us now glance at the history of its beginnings, and at the work of a few of its typical figures. The presentation of "Hernani" in 1830 was by no means the first overt act of the new school. Discussion had been going on for years in the press. De Stendhal says that the classicists had on their side two-thirds of the Académie Française, and all of the French journalists; that their leading organ, however, was the very influential Journal des Débats and its editor, M. Dussant, the general-in-chief of the classical party. The romanticists, however, were not without organs of their own; among which are especially mentioned Le Conservateur Littéraire, begun in 1819, Le Globe in 1824, and the Annales Romantiques in 1823, the last being "practically a kind of annual of the Muse Française (1823-24), which had pretty nearly the same contributors." All of these journals were Bourboniste, except Le Globe, which was liberal in politics.[29] The Academy denounced the new literary doctrine as a heresy and its followers as a sect, but it made head so rapidly that as early as 1829, a year before "Hernani" was acted, a "Histoire du Romantisme en France" appeared, written by a certain M. de Toreinx.[30] It agrees with other authorities in dating the beginning of the movement from Chateaubriand's "Le Génie du Christianisme" (1802). "Chateaubriand," says Gautier, "may be regarded as the grandfather, or, if you prefer it, the sachem of romanticism in France. In the 'Genius of Christianity' he restored the Gothic cathedral, in the 'Natchez' he reopened the sublimity of nature, which had been closed, in 'René' he invented melancholy and modern passion."

Sprung from an ancient Breton family, Chateaubriand came to America in 1790 with the somewhat singular and very French idea of travelling overland to the northwest passage. He was diverted from this enterprise, however, fell in with an Indian tribe and wandered about with them in the wilderness. He did not discover the north-west passage, but, according to Lowell, he invented the forest primeval. Chateaubriand gave the first full utterance to that romantic note which sounds so loudly in Byron's verse; the restless dissatisfaction with life as it is, the longing for something undefined and unattainable, the love for solitude and the desert, the "passion incapable of being converted into action"—in short, the maladie du siécle—since become familiar in "Childe Harold" and in Sénancour's "Obermann." In one of the chapters[31] of "Le Génie du Christianisme" he gives an analysis of this modern melancholy, this Byronic satiety and discontent, which he says was unknown to the ancients. "The farther nations advance in civilization, the more this unsettled state of the passions predominates, for then our imagination is rich, abundant, and full of wonders; but our existence is poor, insipid, and destitute of charms. With a full heart we dwell in an empty world." "Penetrate into those forests of America coeval with the world; what profound silence pervades these retreats when the winds are husht! What unknown voices when they begin to rise! Stand still and everything is mute; take but a step and all nature sighs. Night approaches, the shades thicken; you hear herds of wild beasts passing in the dark; the ground murmurs under your feet; the pealing thunder rebellows in the deserts; the forest bows, the trees fall, an unknown river rolls before you. The moon at length bursts forth in the east; as you proceed at the foot of the trees, she seems to move before you on their tops and solemnly to accompany your steps. The wanderer seats himself on the trunk of an oak to await the return of day; he looks alternately at the nocturnal luminary, the darkness, and the river; he feels restless, agitated, and in expectation of something extraordinary; a pleasure never felt before, an unusual fear, cause his heart to throb, as if he were about to be admitted to some secret of the Divinity; he is alone in the depth of the forests, but the mind of man is equal to the expanse of nature, and all the solitudes of the earth are not too vast for the contemplations of his heart. There is in man an instinctive melancholy, which makes him harmonise with the scenery of nature. Who has not spent whole hours seated on the bank of a river, contemplating its passing waves? Who has not found pleasure on the seashore in viewing the distant rock whitened by the billows? How much are the ancients to be pitied, who discovered in the ocean naught but the palace of Neptune and the cavern of Proteus; it was hard that they should perceive only the adventures of the Tritons and the Nereids in the immensity of the seas, which seems to give an indistinct measure of the greatness of our souls, and which excites a vague desire to quit this life, that we may embrace all nature and taste the fulness of joy in the presence of its Author." [32]

The outbreak of the Revolution recalled Chateaubriand to France. He joined the army of the emigrées at Coblentz, was wounded at the siege of Thionville, and escaped into England where he lived (1793-1800) until the time of the Consulate, when he made his peace with Napoleon and returned to France. He had been a free-thinker, but was converted to Christianity by a dying message from his mother who was thrown into prison by the revolutionists. "I wept," said Chateaubriand, "and I believed." "Le Génie du Christianisme" was an expression of that reactionary feeling which drove numbers of Frenchmen back into the Church, after the blasphemies and horrors of the Revolution. It came out just when Napoleon was negotiating his Concordat with the Pope, and was trying to enlist the religious and conservative classes in support of his government; and it reinforced his purposes so powerfully that he appointed the author, in spite of his legitimism, to several diplomatic posts. "Le Génie du Christianisme" is indeed a plea for Christianity on aesthetic grounds—an attempt, as has been sneeringly said, to recommend Christianity by making it look pretty. Chateaubriand was not a close reasoner; his knowledge was superficial and inaccurate; his character was weakened by vanity and shallowness. He was a sentimentalist and a rhetorician, but one of the most brilliant of rhetoricians; while his sentiment, though not always deep or lasting, was for the nonce sufficiently sincere. He had in particular a remarkable talent for pictorial description; and his book, translated into many tongues, enjoyed an extraordinary vogue. The English version, made in 1815, was entitled "The Beauties of Christianity." For Chateaubriand undertook to show that the Christian religion had influenced favorably literature and the fine arts; that it was more poetical than any other system of belief and worship. He compared Homer and Vergil with Dante, Tasso, Milton, and other modern poets, and awarded the palm to the latter in the treatment of the elementary relations and stock characters, such as husband and wife, father and child, the priest, the soldier, the lover, etc.; preferring Pope's Eloisa, e.g., to Vergil's Dido, and "Paul and Virginia" to the idyls of Theocritus. He pronounced the Christian mythology—angels, devils, saints, miracles—superior to the pagan; and Dante's Hell much more impressive to the imagination than Tartarus. He dwelt eloquently upon the beauty and affecting significance of Gothic church architecture, of Catholic ritual and symbolism, the dress of the clergy, the crucifix, the organ, the church bell, the observances of Christian festivals, the monastic life, the orders of chivalry, the country churchyards where the dead were buried, and even upon the superstitions which the last century had laughed to scorn; such as the belief in ghosts, the adoration of relics, vows to saints and pilgrimages to holy places. In his chapter on "The Influence of Christianity upon Music," he says that the "Christian religion is essentially melodious for this single reason, that she delights in solitude"; the forests are her ancient abode, and her musician "ought to be acquainted with the melancholy notes of the waters and the trees; he ought to have studied the sound of the winds in cloisters, and those murmurs that pervade the Gothic temple, the grass of the cemetery, and the vaults of death." He repeats the ancient fable that the designers of the cathedrals were applying forest scenery to architecture; "Those ceilings sculptured into foliage of different kinds, those buttresses which prop the walls and terminate abruptly like the broken trunks of trees, the coolness of the vaults, the darkness of the sanctuary, the dim twilight of the aisles, the chapels resembling grottoes, the secret passages, the low doorways, in a word everything in a Gothic church reminds you of the labyrinths of a wood, everything excites a feeling of religious awe, of mystery, and of the Divinity." The birds perch upon the steeples and towers as if they were trees, and "the Christian architect, not content with building forests, has been desirous to retain their murmurs, and by means of the organ and of bells, he has attached to the Gothic temple the very winds and the thunders that roll in the recesses of the woods. Past ages, conjured up by these religious sounds, raise their venerable voices from the bosom of the stones and sigh in every corner of the vast cathedral. The sanctuary re-echoes like the cavern of the ancient Sibyl; loud-tongued bells swing over your head; while the vaults of death under your feet are profoundly silent." He praises the ideals of chivalry; gives a sympathetic picture of the training and career of a knight-errant, and asks: "Is there then nothing worthy of admiration in the times of a Roland, a Godfrey, a Coucey, and a Joinville; in the times of the Moors and the Saracens; . . . when the strains of the Troubadours were mingled with the clash of arms, dances with religious ceremonies, and banquets and tournaments with sieges and battles?" Chateaubriand says that the finest Gothic ruins are to be found in the English lake country, on the Scotch mountains, and in the Orkney Islands; and that they are more impressive than classic ruins because in the latter the arches are parallel with the curves of the sky, while in the Gothic or pointed architecture the arches "form a contrast with the circular arches of the sky and the curvatures of the horizon. The Gothic being, moreover, entirely composed of voids, the more readily admits of the decoration of herbage and flowers than the fulness of the Grecian orders. The clustered columns, the domes carved into foliage, or scooped out in the form of a fruit-basket, offered so many receptacles into which the winds carry, with the dust, the seeds of vegetables. The house-leek fixes itself in the mortar, the mosses cover rugged masses with their elastic coating; the thistle projects its brown burrs from the embrasure of a window; and the ivy creeping along the northern cloisters falls in festoons over the arches."

All this is romantic enough; we have the note of Catholic mediaevalism and the note of Ossianic melancholy combined; and this some years before "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," and when Byron was a boy of fourteen and still reading his Ossian.[33] But we are precluded from classifying Chateaubriand among full-fledged romanticists. His literary taste was by no means emancipated from eighteenth-century standards. In speaking of Milton, e.g., he says that if he had only been born in France in the reign of Louis XIV., and had "combined with the native grandeur of his genius the taste of Racine and Boileau," the "Paradise Lost" might have equalled the "Iliad."

Chateaubriand never called himself a romantic. It is agreed upon all hands that the expressions romantisme and littérature romantique were first invented or imported by Madame de Staël in her "L'Allemagne" (1813), "pour exprimer l'affranchissement des vieilles formes littéraires." [34] Some ten years later, or by 1823, when Stendhal published his "Racine et Shakspere," the issue between the schools had been joined and the question quite thoroughly agitated in the Parisian journals. Stendhal announced himself as an adherent of the new, but his temper was decidedly cool and unromantic. I have quoted his epigrammatic definition of romanticism.[35]

In this brochure Stendhal announces that France is on the eve of a literary revolution and that the last hour of classicism has struck, although as yet the classicists are in possession of the theatres, and of all the salaried literary positions under government; and all the newspapers of all shades of political opinion are shut to the romanticists. A company of English actors who attempted to give some of Shakspere's plays at the Porte-Saint-Martin in 1822 were mobbed. "The hisses and cat-calls began before the performance, of which it was impossible to hear a single word. As soon as the actors appeared they were pelted with apples and eggs, and from time to time the audience called out to them to talk French, and shouted, 'À bas Shakspere! c'est un aide de camp du duc de Wellington.'" It will be remembered that in our own day the first representations of Wagner's operas at Paris were interrupted with similar cries: "Pas de Wagner!," "À bas les Allemands!," etc.

In 1827 Kemble's company visited Paris and gave, in English, "Hamlet," "Romeo and Juliet," "Othello," and "The Merchant of Venice." Dumas went to see them and described the impression made upon him by Shakspere, in language identical with that which Goethe used about himself.[36] He was like a man born blind and suddenly restored to sight. Dumas' "Henry III." (1829), a drame in the manner of Shakspere's historical plays, though in prose, was the immediate result of this new vision. English actors were in Paris again in 1828 and 1829; and in 1835 Macready presented "Hamlet," "Othello," and "Henry IV." with great success. Previous to these performances, the only opportunities that the French public had to judge of Shakspere's dramas as acting plays were afforded by the wretched adaptations of Ducis and other stage carpenters. Ducis had read Shakspere only in Letourneur's very inadequate translation (revised by Guizot in 1821). His "Hamlet" was played in 1769; "Macbeth," 1784, "King John," 1791; "Othello" (turned into a comedy), 1792. Mercier's "Timon" was given in 1794; and Dejaure's "Imogènes"—an "arrangement" of "Cymbeline"—in 1796. The romanticists labored to put their countrymen in possession of better versions of Shakspere. Alfred de Vigny rendered "Othello" (1827), and Emile Deschamps, "Romeo and Juliet" and "Macbeth."

Stendhal interviewed a director of one of the French theatres and tried to persuade him that there would be money in it for any house which would have the courage to give a season of romantic tragedy. But the director, who seemed to be a liberal-minded man, assured him that until some stage manager could be found rich enough to buy up the dramatic criticism of the Constitutionnel and two or three other newspapers, the law students and medical students, who were under the influence of those journals, would never suffer the play to get as far as the third act. "If it were otherwise," he said, "don't you suppose that we would have tried Schiller's 'William Tell'? The police would have cut out a quarter of it; one of our adapters another quarter; and what was left would reach a hundred representations, provided it could once secure three."

To this the author replied that the immense majority of young society people had been converted to romanticism by the eloquence of M. Cousin.

"Sir," said the director, "your young society people don't go into the parterre to engage in fisticuffs [faire le coup de poing], and at the theatre, as in politics, we despise philosophers who don't fight." Stendhal adds that the editors of influential journals found their interest in this state of things, since many of them had pieces of their own on the stage, written of course in alexandrine verse and on the classic model; and what would become of these masterpieces if Talma should ever get permission to play in a prose translation of "Macbeth," abridged, say, one-third? "I said one day to one of these gentlemen, 28,000,000 men, i.e., 18,000,000 in England and 10,000,000 in America, admire 'Macbeth' and applaud it a hundred times a year. 'The English,' he answered me with great coolness, 'cannot have real eloquence or poetry truly admirable; the nature of their language, which is not derived from the Latin, makes it quite impossible.'" A great part of "Racine et Shakspere" is occupied with a refutation of the doctrine of the unities of time and place, and with a discussion of the real nature of dramatic illusion, on which their necessity was supposed to rest. Stendhal maintains that the illusion is really stronger in Shakspere's tragedies than in Racine's. It is not essential here to reproduce his argument, which is the same that is familiar to us in Lessing and in Coleridge, though he was an able controversialist, and his logic and irony give a freshness to the treatment of this hackneyed theme which makes his little treatise well worth the reading. To illustrate the nature of real stage illusion, he says that last year (August, 1822) a soldier in a Baltimore theatre, seeing Othello about to kill Desdemona, cried out, "It shall never be said that a damned nigger killed a white woman in my presence," and at the same moment fired his gun and broke an arm of the actor who was playing Othello. "Eh bien, this soldier had illusion: he believed that the action which was passing on the stage was true."

Stendhal proposes the following as a definition of romantic tragedy: "It is written in prose; the succession of events which it presents to the eyes of the spectators lasts several months, and they happen in different places." He complains that the French comedies are not funny, do not make any one laugh; and that the French tragic dialogue is epic rather than dramatic. He advises his readers to go and see Kean in "Richard" and "Othello"; and says that since reading Schlegel and Dennis (!) he has a great contempt for the French critics. He appeals to the usages of the German and English stage in disregarding the rules of Aristotle, and cites the great popularity of Walter Scott's romances, which, he says, are nothing more than romantic tragedies with long descriptions interspersed, to support his plea for a new kind of French prose-tragedy; for which he recommends subjects taken from national history, and especially from the mediaeval chroniclers like Froissart. Nevertheless, he does not advise the direct imitation of Shakspere. He blames Schiller for copying Shakspere, and eulogizes Werner's "Luther" as nearer to the masterpieces of Shakspere than Schiller's tragedies are. He wants the new French drama to resemble Shakspere only in dealing freely with modern conditions, as the latter did with the conditions of his time, without having the fear of Racine or any other authority before its eyes.

In 1824 the Academy, which was slowly constructing its famous dictionary of the French language, happened to arrive at the new word romanticism which needed defining. This was the signal for a heated debate in that venerable body, and the director, M. Auger, was commissioned to prepare a manifesto against the new literary sect, to be read at the meeting of the Institute on the 24th of April next. It was in response to this manifesto that Stendhal wrote the second part of his "Racine et Shakspere" (1825), attached to which is a short essay entitled "Qu'est ce que le Romanticisme?" [37] addressed to the Italian public, and intended to explain to them the literary situation in France, and to enlist their sympathies on the romantic side. "Shakspere," he says, "the hero of romantic poetry, as opposed to Racine, the god of the classicists, wrote for strong souls; for English hearts which were what Italian hearts were about 1500, emerging from that sublime Middle Age questi tempi della virtu sconosciutta." Racine, on the contrary, wrote for a slavish and effeminate court. The author disclaims any wish to impose Shakspere on the Italians. The day will come, he hopes, when they will have a national tragedy of their own; but to have that, they will do better to follow in the footprints of Shakspere than, like Alfieri, in the footprints of Racine. In spite of the pedants, he predicts that Germany and England will carry it over France; Shakspere, Schiller, and Lord Byron will carry it over Racine and Boileau. He says that English poetry since the French Revolution has become more enthusiastic, more serious, more passionate. It needed other subjects than those required by the witty and frivolous eighteenth century, and sought its heroes in the rude, primitive, inventive ages, or even among savages and barbarians. It had to have recourse to time or countries when it was permitted to the higher classes of society to have passions. The Greek and Latin classics could give no help; since most of them belonged to an epoch as artificial, and as far removed from the naïve presentation of the passions, as the eighteenth century itself. The court of Augustus was no more natural than that of Louis XIV. Accordingly the most successful poets in England, during the past twenty years, have not only sought deeper emotions than those of the eighteenth century, but have treated subjects which would have been scornfully rejected by the age of bel esprit. The anti-romantics can't cheat us much longer. "Where, among the works of our Italian pedants, are the books that go through seven editions in two months, like the romantic poems that are coming out in London at the present moment? Compare, e.g., the success of Moore's 'Lalla Rookh,' which appeared in June, 1817, and the eleventh edition of which I have before me, with the success of the 'Camille' of the highly classical Mr. Botta!'"

In 1822, a year before the appearance of Stendhal's "Racine et Shakspere," Victor Hugo had published his "Odes et Poésies Diverses," and a second collection followed in 1824. In the prefaces to these two volumes he protests against the use of the terms classic and romantic, as mots de guerre and vague words which every one defines in accordance with his own prejudices. If romanticism means anything, he says, it means the literature of the nineteenth century, and all the anathemas launched at the heads of contemporary writers reduce themselves to the following method of argument. "We condemn the literature of the nineteenth century because it is romantic. And why is it romantic? Because it is the literature of the nineteenth century." As to the false taste which disfigured the eighteenth-century imitations of Racine and Boileau, he would prefer to distinguish that by the name scholastic, a style which is to the truly classic what superstition and fanaticism are to religion. The intention of these youthful poems of Hugo was partly literary and partly political and religious: "The history of mankind affords no poetry," he says, "except when judged from the vantage-ground of monarchical ideas and religious beliefs. . . . He has thought that . . . in substituting for the outworn and false colours of pagan mythology the new and truthful colours of the Christian theogony, one could inject into the ode something of the interest of the drama, and could make it speak, besides, that austere, consoling, and religious language which is needed by an old society that issues still trembling from the saturnalia of atheism and anarchy. . . . The literature of the present, the actual literature, is the expression, by way of anticipation, of that religious and monarchical society which will issue, doubtless, from the midst of so many ancient debris, of so many recent ruins. . . . If the literature of the great age of Louis XIV. had invoked Christianity in place of worshipping heathen gods . . . the triumph of the sophistical doctrines of the last century would have been much more difficult, perhaps even impossible. . . . But France had not that good fortune; its national poets were almost all pagan poets, and our literature was rather the expression of an idolatrous and democratic, than of a monarchical and Christian society." The prevailing note, accordingly, in these early odes is that of the Bourbon Restoration of 1815-30, and of the Catholic reaction against the sceptical Éclaircissement of the eighteenth century. The subjects are such as these: "The Poet in the Times of Revolution"; "La Vendée"; "The Maidens of Verdun," which chants the martyrdom of three young royalist sisters who were put to death for sending money and supplies to the emigres; "Quibiron," where a royalist detachment which had capitulated under promise of being treated like prisoners of war, were shot down in squads by the Convention soldiery; "Louis XVII."; "The Replacement of the Statue of Henry IV."; "The Death of the Duke of Berry"; "The Birth of the Duke of Bourdeaux" and his "Baptism"; "The Funeral of Louis XVIII."; "The Consecration of Charles X."; "The Death of Mlle. de Sombreuil," the royalist heroine who saved her father's life by drinking a cupful of human blood in the days of the Terror; and "La Bande Noire," which denounces with great bitterness the violation of the tombs of the kings of France by the regicides, and pleads for the preservation of the ruins of feudal times:

  "O murs! ô créneaux! ô tourelle!
  Remparts, fossés aux ponts mouvants!
  Lourds faisceaux de colonnes frêles!
  Fiers chateaux! modestes couvents!
  Cloîtres poudreux, salles antiques,
  Où gémissaient les saints cantiques,
  Où riaient les banquets joyeux!
  Lieux où le coeur met ses chimères!
  Églises où priaient nos mères
  Tours où combattaient nos aïeux!"

In these two ode collections, though the Catholic and legitimist inspiration is everywhere apparent, there is nothing revolutionary in the language or verse forms. But in the "Odes et Ballades" of 1826, "the romantic challenge," says Saintsbury, "is definitely thrown down. The subjects are taken by preference from times and countries which the classical tradition had regarded as barbarous. The metres and rhythm are studiously broken, varied, and irregular; the language has the utmost possible glow of colour, as opposed to the cold correctness of classical poetry, the completest disdain of conventional periphrasis, the boldest reliance on exotic terms and daring neologisms." This description applies more particularly to the Ballades, many of which, such as "La Ronde du Sabbat," "La Légende de la Nonne," "La Chasse du Burgrave," and "Le Pas d'Armes du Roi Jean" are mediaeval studies in which the lawless grotesquerie of Gothic art runs riot. "The author, in composing them," says the preface, "has tried to give some idea of what the poems of the first troubadours of the Middle Ages might have been; those Christian rhapsodists who had nothing in the world but their swords and their guitars, and went from castle to castle paying for their entertainment with their songs." To show that liberty in art does not mean disorder, the author draws an elaborate contrast between the garden of Versailles and a primitive forest, in a passage which will remind the reader of similar comparisons in the writings of Shenstone, Walpole, and other English romanticists of the eighteenth century. There is as much order, he asserts, in the forest as in the garden, but it is a live order, not a dead regularity. "Choose then," he exclaims, "between the masterpiece of gardening and the work of nature; between that which is beautiful by convention and that which is beautiful without rule; between an artificial literature and an original poetry. . . . In two words—and we shall not object to have judgment passed in accordance with this observation on the two kinds of literature that are called classic and romantic,—regularity is the taste of mediocrity, order is the taste of genius. . . . It will be objected to us that the virgin forest hides in its magnificent solitudes a thousand dangerous animals, while the marshy basins of the French garden conceal at most a few harmless creatures. That is doubtless a misfortune; but, taking it all in all, we like a crocodile better than a frog; we prefer a barbarism of Shakspere to an insipidity of Campistron." But above all things—such is the doctrine of this preface—do not imitate anybody—not Shakspere any more than Racine. "He who imitates a romantic poet becomes thereby a classic, and just because he imitates." In 1823 Hugo had published anonymously his first prose romance, "Han d'Islande," the story of a Norwegian bandit. He got up the local colour for this by a careful study of the Edda and the Sagas, that "poésie sauvage" which was the admiration of the new school and the horror of the old. But it was in the preface to "Cromwell," published in 1827, that Hugo issued the full and, as it were, official manifesto of romanticism. The play itself is hardly actable. It is modelled, in a sense, upon the historical plays of Shakspere, but its Cromwell is a very melodramatic person, and its Puritans and Cavaliers strike the English reader with the same sense of absurdity produced by the pictures of English society in "L'Homme qui Rit." But of the famous preface Gautier says: "The Bible among Protestants, the Koran among Mahometans are not the object of a deeper veneration. It was, indeed, for us the book of books, the book which contained the pure doctrine." It consisted in great part of a triumphant attack upon the unities, and upon the verse and style which classic usage had consecrated to French tragedy. I need not repeat the argument here. It is already familiar, and some sentences[38] from this portion of the essay I have quoted elsewhere.

The preface also contained a plea for another peculiarity of the romantic drama, its mixture, viz., of tragedy and comedy. According to Hugo, this is the characteristic trait, the fundamental difference, which separates modern from ancient art, romantic from classical literature. Antique art, he says, rejected everything which was not purely beautiful, but the Christian and modern spirit feels that there are many things in creation besides that which is, humanly speaking, beautiful; and that everything which is in nature is—or has the right to be—in art. It includes in its picture of life the ugly, the misshapen, the monstrous. Hence results a new type, the grotesque, and a new literary form, romantic comedy. He proceeds to illustrate this thesis with his usual wealth of imaginative detail and pictorial language. The Middle Ages, more than any other period, are rich in instances of that intimate blending of the comic and the horrible which we call the grotesque; the witches' Sabbath, the hoofed and horned devil, the hideous figures of Dante's hell; the Scaramouches, Crispins, Harlequins of Italian farce; "grimacing silhouettes of man, quite unknown to grave antiquity"; and "all those local dragons of our legends, the gargoyle of Rouen, the Taras of Tarascon, etc. . . . The contact of deformity has given to the modern sublime something purer, grander, more sublime, in short, than the antique beauty. . . . Is it not because the modern imagination knows how to set prowling hideously about our churchyards, the vampires, the ogres, the erl-kings, the psylles, the ghouls, the brucolaques, the aspioles, that it is able to give its fays that bodiless form, that purity of essence which the pagan nymphs approach so little? The antique Venus is beautiful, admirable, no doubt; but what has spread over the figures of Jean Goujon that graceful, strange, airy elegance? What has given them that unfamiliar character of life and grandeur, unless it be the neighbourhood of the rude and strong carvings of the Middle Ages? . . . The grotesque imprints its character especially upon that wonderful architecture which in the Middle Ages takes the place of all the arts. It attaches its marks to the fronts of the cathedrals; enframes its hells and purgatories under the portal arches, and sets them aflame upon the windows; unrolls its monsters, dogs, demons around the capitals, along the friezes, on the eaves." We find this same bizarre note in the mediaeval laws, social usages, church institutions, and popular legends, in the court fools, in the heraldic emblems, the religious processions, the story of "Beauty and the Beast." It explains the origin of the Shaksperian drama, the high-water mark of modern art.

Shakspere does not seem to me an artist of the grotesque. He is by turns the greatest of tragic and the greatest of comic artists, and his tragedy and comedy lie close together, as in life, but without that union of the terrible and the ludicrous in the same figure, and that element of deformity which is the essence of the proper grotesque. He has created, however, one specimen of true grotesque, the monster Caliban. Caliban is a comic figure, but not purely comic; there is something savage, uncouth, and frightful about him. He has the dignity and the poetry which all rude, primitive beings have: which the things of nature, rocks and trees and wild beasts have. It is significant, therefore, that Robert Browning should have been attracted to Caliban. Browning had little comic power, little real humour; in him the grotesque is an imperfect form of the comic. The same criticism applies to Hugo. He gave a capital example of the grotesque in the four fools in the third act of "Cromwell" and in Triboulet, the Shaksperian jester of "Le Roi s'Amuse." Their songs and dialogues are bizarre and fantastic in the highest degree, but they are not funny; they do not make us laugh like the clowns of Shakspere—they are not comic, but merely queer. Hugo's defective sense of humour is shown in the way in which he frequently takes that one step which, Napoleon said, separates the sublime from the ridiculous—exaggerating character and motive till the heroic passes into melodrama and melodrama into absurdity. This fault is felt in his great prose romance "Notre-Dame de Paris" (1831), a picture of mediaeval Paris, in which the humpback Quasimodo affords an exact illustration of what the author meant by the grotesque; another of the same kind is furnished by the hero of his later romance "L'Homme qui Rit."

Gautier has left a number of sketches, written in a vein lovingly humorous, of some of the eccentrics—the curiosités romantiques—whose oddities are perhaps even more instructive as to the many directions which the movement took, than the more ordered enthusiasm of the less extreme votaries. There was the architect Jule Vabre, e.g., whose specialty was Shakspere. Shakspere "was his god, his idol, his passion, a wonder to which he could never grow accustomed." Vabre's life-project was a French translation of his idol, which should be absolutely true to the text, reproducing the exact turn and movement of the phrase, following the alternations of prose, rime, and blank verse in the original, and shunning neither its euphemistic subtleties nor its barbaric roughnesses. To fit himself for this task, he went to London and lived there, striving to submit himself to the atmosphere and the milieu, and learning to think in English; and there Gautier encountered him about 1843, in a tavern at High-Holborn, drinking stout and eating rosbif and speaking French with an English accent. Gautier told him that all he had to do now, to translate Shakspere, was to learn French. "I am going to work at it," he answered, more struck with the wisdom than the wit of the suggestion. A few years later Vabre turned up in France with a project for a sort of international seminary. "He wanted to explain 'Hernani' to the English and 'Macbeth' to the French. It made him tired to see the English learning French in 'Telemaque,' and the French learning English in the 'Vicar of Wakefield.'" Poor Vabre's great Shakspere translation never materialised; but François-Victor Hugo, the second son of the great romancer, carried out many of Vabre's principles of translation in his version of Shakspere.

Another curious figure was the water-colour painter, Célestin Nanteuil, who suggested to Gautier the hero of an early piece of his own, written to accompany an engraving in an English keepsake, representing the Square of St. Sebald at Nuremberg. This hero, Elias Wildman-stadius, or l'Homme Moyen-âge, was "in a sort, the Gothic genius of that Gothic town"—a retardataire or man born out of his own time—who should have been born in 1460, in the days of Albrecht Dürer. Célestin Nanteuil "had the air of one of those tall angels carrying a censer or playing on the sambucque, who inhabit the gable ends of cathedrals; and he seemed to have come down into the city among the busy townsfolk, still wearing his nimbus plate behind his head in place of a hat, and without having the least suspicion that it is not perfectly natural to wear one's aureole in the street." He is described as resembling in figure "the spindling columns of the church naves of the fifteenth century. . . . The azure of the frescoes of Fiesole had furnished the blue of his eyes; his hairs, of the blond of an aureole, seemed painted one by one, with the gold of the illuminators of the Middle Ages. . . . One would have said, that from the height of his Gothic pinnacle Célestin Nanteuil overlooked the actual town, hovering above the sea of roofs, regarding the eddying blue smoke, perceiving the city squares like a checkerboard, the streets like the notches of a saw in a stone bench, the passers-by like mice; but all that confusedly athwart the haze, while from his airy observatory he saw, close at hand and in all their detail, the rose windows, the bell towers bristling with crosses, the kings, patriarchs, prophets, saints, angels of all the orders, the whole monstrous army of demons or chimeras, nailed, scaled, tushed, hideously winged; guivres, taresques, gargoyles, asses' heads, apes' muzzles, all the strange bestiary of the Middle Age." Nanteuil furnished illustrations for the books of the French romanticists. "Hugo's' Notre-Dame de Paris' was the object of his most fervent admiration, and he drew from it subjects for a large number of designs and aquarelles." Gautier mentions, as among his rarest vignettes, the frontispiece of "Albertus," recalling Rembrandt's manner; and his view of the Palazzo of San Marc in Royer's "Venezia la bella." Gautier says that one might apply to Nanteuil's aquarelles what Joseph Delorme[39] said of Hugo's ballads, that they were Gothic window paintings. "The essential thing in these short fantasies is the carriage, the shape, the clerical, monastic, royal, seignorial awkwardness of the figures and their high colouring. . . . Célestin had made his own the angular anatomy of coats-of-arms, the extravagant contours of the mantles, the chimerical or monstrous figures of heraldry, the branchings of the emblazoned skirts, the lofty attitude of the feudal baron, the modest air of the chatelaine, the sanctimonious physiognomy of the big Carthusian Carmelite, the furtive mien of the young page with parti-coloured pantaloons. . . . He excelled also in setting the persons of poem, drama, or romance in ornamented frames like the Gothic shrines with triple colonettes, arches, canopied and bracketed niches, with statuettes, figurines, emblematic animals, male and female saints on a background of gold. He entered so deeply into the sentiment of the old Gothic imagery that he could make a Lady of the Pillar in a brocade dalmatica, a Mater Dolorosa with the seven swords in her breast, a St. Christopher with the child Jesus on his shoulder and leaning on a palm tree, worthy to serve as types to the Byzantine painters of Epinal. . . . Nothing resembled less the clock face and troubadour Middle Age which flourished about 1825. It is one of the main services of the romantic school to have thoroughly disembarrassed art from this." Gautier describes also a manuscript piece of Nerval, for which he furnished a prologue, and which was an imitation of one of the Diableries, or popular farces of the Middle Ages, in which the devil was introduced. It contained a piece within the piece, in the fashion of an old mystery play, with scenery consisting of the mouth of hell, painted red and surmounted by a blue paradise starred with gold. An angel came down to play at dice with the devil for souls. In his excess of zeal, the angel cheated and the devil grew angry and called him a "big booby, a celestial fowl," and threatened to pull his feathers out ("Le Prince des Sots").

In France, as in England and Germany, the romantic revival promoted and accompanied works of erudition like Raynouard's researches in Provençal and old French philology and the poetry of the troubadours (1816); Creuzé de Lesser's "Chevaliers de la Table Ronde"; Marchangy's "La Gaule Poétique." History took new impulse from that sens du passé which romanticism did so much to awaken. Augustin Thierry's obligations to Scott have already been noticed. It was the war chant of the Prankish warriors in Chateaubriand's "Les Martyrs"—

"Pharamond! Pharamond! nous avons combattu avec l'épée"—

which first excited his historical imagination and started him upon the studies which issued in the "Récits Mérovingiens" and the "Conquéte d'Angleterre." Barante's "Ducs de Bourgogne" (1814-28) confessedly owes much of its inception to Scott. Michaud's "History of the Crusades" (1811-22) and the "History of France" (1833-67) by that most romantic of historians, Michelet, may also be credited to the romantic movement. The end of the movement, as a definite period in the history of French literature, is commonly dated from the failure upon the stage of Victor Hugo's "Les Burgraves" in 1843. The immediate influence of the French romantic school upon English poetry or prose was slight. Like the German school, it came too late. The first generation of English romantics was drawing to its close. Scott died two years after "Hernani" stormed the French theatre. Two years later still died Coleridge, long since fallen silent—as a poet—and always deaf to Gallic charming. We shall find the first impress of French romance among younger men and in the latter half century.

In France itself the movement passed on into other phases. Many early adherents of Hugo's cénacle and entourage fell away from their allegiance and, like Sainte-Beuve and Musset, took up a critical or even antagonistic attitude. Musset's "Lettres de Dupuis et Cotonet" [40] turns the whole romantic contention into mockery. Yet no work more fantastically and gracefully romantic, more Shaksperian in quality, was produced by any member of the school than Musset produced in such dramas as "Fantasio" and "Lorenzaccio."

[1] It is scarcely necessary to say that no full-length picture of the French romantic movement is attempted in this chapter, but only such a sketch as should serve to illustrate its relation to English romanticism. For the history of the movement, besides the authorities quoted or referred to in the text, I have relied principally upon the following: Petit de Julleville: "Histoire de la Littérature Française," Tome vii., Paris, 1899. Brunetière: "Manual of the History of French Literature" (authorized translation), New York, 1898. L. Bertrand; "La Fin du Classicisme," Paris, 1897. Adolphe Jullien: "Le Romantisme et L'Editeur Renduel," Paris, 1897. I have also read somewhat widely, though not exhaustively, in the writings of the French romantics themselves, including Hugo's early poems and most of his dramas and romances; Nodier's "Contes en prose et en verse "; nearly all of Musset's works in prose and verse; ditto of Théophile Gautier's; Stendhal's "La Chartreuse de Parme," "Le Rouge et le Noir," "Racine et Shakespeare," "Lord Byron en Italie," etc.; Vigny's "Chatterton," "Cinq-Mars," and many of his Scriptural poems; Balzac's "Les Chouans"; Mérimée's "Chronique de Charles IX.," and most of his "Nouvelles "; Chateaubriand's "Le Genie du Christianisme"; some of Lamartine's "Meditations"; most of George Sand's novels, and a number of Dumas'; many of Sainte-Beuve's critical writings; and the miscellanies of Gérard de Nerval (Labrunie). Of many of these, of course, no direct use or mention is made in the present chapter.

[2] "Il a pour l'art du moyen âge, un mepris voisin de la demence et de la frénésie. . . . Voir le discours où il propose de mutiler les statues des rois de la facade de Notre-Dame, pour en former un piédestal à la statue du peuple français." Bertrand: "La Fin du Classicisme," pp. 302-3 and note.

[3] But see, for the Catholic reaction in France, the writings of Joseph de Maistre, especially "Du Pape" (1819).

[4] "Histoire du Romantisme" (1874).

[5] ibid., 210.

[6] Heine counted, in the Salon of 1831, more than thirty pictures inspired by Scott.

[7] Also "Le Roi Lear" (Salon of 1836) and "La Procession du Pape des Fous" (aquarelle) for Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris."

[8] Recall Schlegel's saying that the genius of the classic drama was plastic and that of the romantic picturesque.

[9] Gautier, 192.

[10] This is a distinction more French than English: la tragédie vs. le drame.

[11] Preface to "Hernani."

[12] Preface to "Cromwell."

[13] "Histoire du Romantisme," p. 64.

[14] "Primer of French Literature," p. 115.

[15] One of the principles of the romanticists was the mélange des genres, whereby the old lines between tragedy and comedy, e.g., were broken down, lyricism admitted into the drama, etc.

[16] Stendhal, writing in 1823 ("Racine et Shakspere"), complains that "it will soon be thought bad form to say, on the French stage, 'Fermez cette fenêtre' [window]: we shall have to say, 'Fermez cette croisée' [casement]. Two-thirds of the words used in the parlours of the best people (du meilleur ton) cannot be reproduced in the theatre. M. Legouvé, in his tragedy 'Henri IV.,' could not make use of the patriot king's finest saying, 'I could wish that the poorest peasant in my kingdom might, at the least, have a chicken in his pot of a Sunday.' English and Italian verse allows the poet to say everything; and this good French word pot would have furnished a touching scene to Shakspere's humblest pupil. But la tragédie racinienne, with its style noble and its artificial dignity, has to put it thus,—in four alexandrines:

  "'Je veux enfin qu'au jour marqué pour le repos,
  L'hôte laborieux des modestes hameaux,
  Sur sa table moins humble, ait, par ma bienfaisance,
  Quelques-uns de ces mets réservés à l'aisance.'"

It was Stendhal (whose real name was Henri Beyle) who said that Paris needed a chain of mountains on its horizon.

[17] Gautier, 188.

[18] "Cromwell," 1827,

[19] Gautier, 107.

[20] Musset's fantastic "Ballade à la Lune," exaggerates the romantic so decidedly as to seem ironical. It is hard to say whether it is hyperbole or parody. See Petit de Julleville, vol. vii., p. 652.

[21] See vol. i., pp. 372-73.

[22] Gautier, 163.

[23] "Des Knaben Wunderhorn."

[24] Charles Nodier vindicated the literary claims of Perrault.

[25] Gautier, 93.

[26] Rue Jean-Gougon, where the cénacle met often.

[27] Nerval hanged himself at Paris, in January, 1855, in the rue de la Vielle Lanterne.

[28] Gautier, 167.

[29] The romanticism of the Globe was of a more conservative stripe than that of the Muse Française, which was the organ of the group of young poets who surrounded Hugo. The motto of the latter was Jam nova progenies coelo demittitur alto. The Globe defined romanticism as Protestantism in letters. The critical battle was on as early as 1824. On April 24, in that year, Auger, director of the Academy, read at the annual session of the Institute a discourse on romanticism, which he denounced as a literary schism. The prospectus of the Globe, an important document on the romantic side, dates from the same year. The Constitutionnel, the most narrowly classical of the opposing journals, described romanticism as an epidemic malady. To the year 1825, when the Cénacle had its headquarters at Victor Hugo's house, belong, among others, the following manifestoes on both sides of the controversy; "Les Classiques Vengés," De la Touche; "Le Temple du Romantisme," Morel; "Le Classique et le Romantique" (a satirical comedy in the classical interest), Baour-Lormian. Cyprien Desmarais' "Essais sur les classiques et les romantiques" had appeared at Paris in 1823. At Rouen was printed in 1826 "Du Classique et du Romantique," a collection of papers read at the Rouen Academy during the year, rather favorable, on the whole, to the new movement.

[30] This is now a somewhat rare book; I have never seen a copy of it; but it was reviewed in The Saturday Review (vol. lxv., p. 369).

[31] Part ii., Book iii., chap ix.

[32]Part ii., Book iv., chap. i.

[33] For Chateaubriand and Ossian see vol. i., pp. 332-33. He made translations from Ossian, Gray, and Milton.

[34] "Victor Hugo," par Paul Boudois, p. 32.

[35] Vol. i., p. 10.

[36] See vol. i., p. 379.

[37] The use of this form instead of romantisme is perhaps worth noticing.

[38] See vol. i., pp. 19-20.

[39] Sainte-Beuve's "Confessions de Joseph Delorme," 1829.

[40] See vol. i., pp. 18-23.