Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

religious element in the enjoyment of are strange. We are certainly more nature, to an extent which we think has blasé than the crowds of Romans and been scarcely generally enough recog. Greeks who, according to Lucian, made vized. Even an author in whom one would an annual trip to Gades, or the west least of all expect to find such a spirit coast of Gaul, in order to see the ebb abounds with indications of it; we refer and tide of the Atlantic ; but some of to Aristophanes, from some of whose us, mutatis mutandis, still deserve the comedies, especially such a one as the reproach of the younger Pliny, that men Clouds, many proofs of this assertion travel over sea and land to see the woncould be drawn. Even if the Greek ders of foreign lands, while those of Italy mythology was not a mere calendar of are left unnoticed. the powers and workings of nature per But the question of course remains, sonitied, even if its stories were not whether the Romans possessed that sense mere attempts to clothe in human nar- for the pure beauty of natural scenery rative the impressions of her phenomena in itself, the influence of which at the

- which would of itself prove a capabil present day few will deny, and which ity of watching nature amounting to the was justly remarked upon by Mr. Gladbest evidence of a love for it—no people, stone, when he opened a park in Lancafrom the evidence of its literary remains, shire the other day, as a cheering sign was more open to the influence of nature of the times. In the sense in which from this point of view. But even the workmen, taking a walk in the park, Romans of the hypercivilized days of may be said to be open to the beauties the empire had not lost all vestiges of of nature, the Romans were assuredly this feeling, as many passages besides not one whit behind ourselves. Amoenithose quoted by M. Friedländer from tas was the term by which they exSeneca, Pliny, and others, tend to show. pressed the tranquil beauty of scenery The second source of their interest in most congenial to them, which, as a rule, scenery he traces to the circumstance they sought by the sea-side. But they of the celebrity attaching to any place, appear to have lacked the sense of the and derived from poetry and literature. romantic, which, notwithstanding its When Lucilius came back from a tour many ludicrous perversions, is an unin Sicily, the only subject on which doubted acquisition of our own times. Seneca was anxious to have information They seem, as M. Friedländer ingeniousfrom him was the real nature of the ly proves by the conspicuousness of its whirlpool of Charybdis;" he had already absence in cases in which a modern been informed that Scylla was a rock could have hardly failed to introduce it, without any danger whatsoever." This to have cared neither for the glow of is no doubt only a bastard kind of inter- sunset nor for the pale light of the moon. est in scenery; but do not, we may fairly Such expressions as “ blue mountains," ask, similar motives play a very important “glimmering twilight,” such a passage part in the interest taken in whole dis, as the well-known apostrophe to the tricts by modern tourists who consider sinking sun which M. Friedländer quotes themselves very good judges of the pic- from Faust- and others could, of course, turesque? Who crowd the steamboats be added by the thousand from our own on Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine- poets and poetasters --- he looks for in the real lovers of scenery, or the readers of vain in the ancient writers. Above all, Sir Walter Scott ? And does the castled with the Alps at their door, there were crag of Drachenfels call forth more ad- no Alpine travellers at Rome. But an miration of its natural beauty, or at- inquiry into this last point would not be tempts at remembering the entire stanza complete without touching upon another in which Byron first insured attention element of modern delight in nature to its devoted head ? Again, natural which Professor Friedländer, as a Gercuriosities and abnormities were as in- man, has naturally left out. The Romans, teresting to the Romans as they are to with all their refinements of luxury, as modern travellers who think they admire well as the ancient Greeks, with their the Cave of Fingal or the Giant's Cause exquisitely natural lives, were too much way because they are beautiful, and in the open air, and took too much active really only wonder at them because they exercise as a matter of course, to be

New SERIESVOL. I., No. 2.

13

likely to have a very keen appreciation | talents, her high character and pure patriof exceptional air and exercise in their otism, the intluence she exercised upon sublimation in Alpine travel.

the more moderate and respectable secLastly, we are reminded of the ab. tion of the Republicans, the fortitude sence of effective incitements to travel with which she bore the sorrows of her for its own sake among the Romans, in imprisonment and the intrepidity with comparison with those so amply provided which she met her tragic fate—all have in our own times. This was, of course, tributed to render her an object of attracat once cause and effect, for the Romans tion and pity. She stands forth among could not have failed to cultivate the her contemporaries as a fair representanatural sciences if they had cared for tive of what was best in the party that them. And thus it is interesting to find overthrew the ancient monarchy. In the Professor Friedländer quote from Hum- prejudices of that party she fully shared, boldt the three principal causes which the and her memoirs speak of Louis XVI. latter states to have in his own case ex- and of his political intentions in terms cited an early inclination to travel in the which history has certainly not ratified. tropical districts — namely, poetical de But, in the generally noble aims of the scriptions of nature, landscape-painting, Girondists, and in their utter abhorrence and the cultivation of tropical plants. of the excesses of Robespierre and his Humboldt says that an irrepressible de- crew, she also fully shared : and when sire to visit the tropics was implanted in her friends fell before that Nemesis of him by Foster's book on the South Sea Isl- successful agitators—the necessity of govands, by some pictures of the banks of the erning in the face of agitators more exGanges in the house of Warren Hastings treme than themselves—their fall bore in London, and by a colossal dragon-tree her with them in a common ruin. Able in the Botanical Gardens at Berlin. No and, for the most part, upright men, had Roman could have received any such they all possessed her energy and courfruitful impressions at home, for descrip- age, it is possible they might have made tion of nature, in the sense of that con a more effectual stand than they did. tained in Foster's book, is one of the Be that as it may, few nobler deaths than most modern branches of literature, and hers were the result of their want of scarcely was such at all before Humboldt practical governing power. himself wrote. Landscape painting was Madame Roland was born in Paris on an art nearly unknown to the Greeks the 18th of March, 1754. Her father and Romans; and as for tropical plants, was an engraver on metal, and belonged Roman horticulture contined itself to to the bourgeois class. Her mother was forcing nature into productiveness and a woman of sense; and, though not in prettiness, without attempting to encour- anywise remarkable, obtained a strong age her to reproduce herself in any hold on the affections of her only daughthing like her own grandeur.

ter, who speaks of her in her memoirs with the tenderest affection and respect. From a very early age the child manifested a great aptitude for study, and

systematically devoured every book that MADAME ROLAND.*

came within her reach. She had also

thrown all the ardor of her nature into Among the victims of the French Rev- the performance of her religious duties. olution there is scarcely one who has At the age of eleven she was sent, at her excited such compassionate interest as own earnest request, to a convent, in Madame Roland. Her beauty, her great order that she might prepare herself

more calmly and suitably for her " first communion."

." Here it was that she form* Etude sur Madame Roland et son Temps, suivie des lettres de Mde. Roland à Buzot, et d'autres Doced with Sophie Cannet one of those inurnents inedits. Par C. A. DAUBAX. Paris.

Memoires de Madame Roland. Entièrement conforme au Manuscrit Autographe transmis en Captivite. Nouvelle Edition, revue et complétéo 1858 par une legs a la Bibliothèque Impériale. sur les Manuscrits Autographes et accompagnée Publiée avec des Notes par C. A. DAUBAN. Paris. de Notes et de Pièces inédites. Par M. P. FacMemoires de Madame Roland ecrits durant sa

Hachette & Co.

From The Reader,

GERE,

tensely strong attachments which occa- she accepted the hand of M. Roland. sionally exist between deep-hearted un- This gentleman succeeded where many married women. Her frequent letters bad failed; for Madame Roland, with a to her friend have been published, and self-complacency which is one of the contain a pretty complete history of her worst features in her character, gives us life up to the date of her marriage. The to understand that she bad had

any pumcorrespondence then ceases; for M. Ro- ber of offers. The marriage took place land seems, foolishly enough, to have re. in the early part of 1780, and was, on the garded the matter with jealousy, and to whole, more happy than might bave have expressed a desire that intimate re- been expected of a marriage so entirely lations should cease. His wife's comment de raison. For M. Roland was twenty on this is: “It was ill judged; for mat- years older than his wife, and not young rimony is a grave and solemn state, and for his age-a man of learning and severe if you deprive a woman of feeling of the moral principle, but egotistical, pedantic, pleasures of friendship with persons of and devoid of any lovable qualities. His her own sex, you expose her to tempta- profession was that of a government intion.” However, notwithstanding this spector of arts and manufactures. In all separation and the divergence of their his literary pursuits his wife took a very political opinions, the bond of affection active share-in fact, it would seem that that had united Madame Roland to the best and most effective bits in his Sophie Cannet and to her sister Henriette writings are nearly always due to her did not break utterly. Some idea of its pen. She herself says: strength may be obtained from the fact that, when, many years afterwards, the life made me share in the labors of my husband

“The habit of and the taste for, a studious former was waiting in the prison of

so long as he remained a private individual; I Sainte-Pélagie for the death that was ad. wrote with him as I ate with him, because the vancing but too surely, Henriette came one came to me as naturally as the other, and and offered to die in her stead. The in- because, living only for his happiness, I deterview was thus described to a friend voted myself to what gave him the greatest by one of the actors :

amount of pleasure. He described the arts

I described them also, though they were weari. "I was a widow and had no children; some to me; he was fond of erudition-we Madame Roland had a husband already ad- made our researches together; if he relaxed vanced in years and a charming little daugh. his mind by sending some literary fragment to ter who required the care of a wife and of a

an academy, we worked at it together, or sepmother. What was more natural than that arately, so as to compare our work and select I should expose my useless life to save hers? the better, or else remodel the two; if he had My wish was to exchange clothing with her written homilies, I should have done the same. and to remain a prisoner while she endeavored He became a minister ; I did not take any part to escape under favor of the disguise. All in the administrative portion of his duties; but my entreaties, all my tears, remained fruit- if there was a circular to be dispatched, 'a seless. “But they would kill you,' she repeated ries of instructions or an important public paconstantly; your blood would be upon me. per to be drawn up, we conferred on the subRather would'I suffer a thousand deaths than ject together, according to the confidence subhave to reproach myself with yours.''

sisting between us; and, penetrated with his ideas, full of my own, I took the

pen

which On leaving the convent Mademoiselle ! had more time to wield than he. Both havPhlipon went back to live with her par- ing the same principles and the same spirit

, ents, and spent the years of her girlhood ting them into words; and my husband had and early womanhood chiefly in study nothing to lose in passing through my hands. The first event of any importance that I could express nothing with respect to jusbroke the calm monotony of her exist- tice and reason which he was not capable of ence was the death of her mother, which realizing and upholding by his character and happened in 1775. After this, her father, conduct; and I depicted better than he could who seems to have been an excessively have described what he had executed, or what commonplace man, took gradually to he could promise to accomplish. Roland, vicious courses, and wasted his daugh- administrator; his activity, his knowledge,

without me, would not have been a less good ter's fortune. Disgusted with his con

were his own, like his uprightness; with me duct, she determined to abandon him; he produced more sensation, because I put into and it was while living in solitude that the writings that mixture of strength with

up

more.

sweetness, of the authority of reason with the Ministre de l'Intérieur by Louis XVI., charms of feeling which belong, perhaps, only who had determined to try to govern to a woman gifted with a tender heart and a with a popular ministry. For this post healthy brain. I worked with delight at these Roland, it is not too much to say, was writings, which I deemed were destined to be useful; and I found in their production more

quite unfit; and his nomination can only pleasure than if I had been known as their be explained by a complete dearth of author. I yearn for happiness; and find it in men of capacity and integrity. During the good I do, and do not even feel any need the ten weeks of his tenure of office he of glory ; I do not see in this world any seems to have applied himself mainly to part which suits me except that of Provi- weakening the monarchy which he should dence. I allow the mischievous to regard this bave strengthened ; and in the manner avowal as an impertinence, for it must bear of his resignation he weakened it still some resemblance to one: but those who

The once famous letter announcknow me will see nothing in it but what is sincere like myself.”

ing his determination to the king was the

work of his wife. We may here remark that it was in his Two months afterwards, on the 10ih capacity as an administrator-the one of August, the people invaded the Tuilewhich Madame Roland declares was ex- ries; the king fled for refuge to the Naclusively his own—that her husband most tional Assembly, and was deposed, the signally failed. But to return to the revolution was triumphant, and Roland wite: notwithstanding all her literary was reïnstated as Minister of the Interior. avocations, she prided' herself on never The times were now terribleand the neglecting her household duties. One position horribly responsible. What was trait especially deserves notice, as being wanted was a statesman ready in decisvery singular in France at that time, and ion, firm and prompt in action, fertile in not now as common as it should be; expedients, plausible in speech. Roland, namely, that she insisted on being her with the best intentions, was a pedant, child's nurse.

and powerless as a leader of men. SomeIn the latter part of the year 1791, his thing better than sententious circulars inspectorship having been abolished, Ro- was required to rule revolutionary land left Lyons, where he had been liv. France at a time when the mob was ing for some time, and came to Paris. I butchering the inmates of the prisons. He was already a strong partisan of the He failed; but while blaming him for his revolutionary opinions that were gaining failure, it is but just to remember the strength with every hour and shaking almost insurmountable difficulties against society to its foundations. It was an which he had to contend. It is but just, anxious time; but as yet the horrors of also, to remember that, by protesting the Reign of Terror had not been felt, against that which he had not prevented, and upright men still looked forward he exposed himself to almost certain with hope and confidence. Flying from death. In this last duty his wife took a the abuses of the past, they did not per- noble part. The charms of her converceive that they were rushing headlong sation and the nobleness of her somewhat into a pit of still darker abuses in the ostentatious sentiments had won for her future. Madame Roland was all eager- a high place in the esteem of her husness, and threw herself into the move- band's political friends, the Girondists. ment with all the passion of her nature. This influence she used to urge them to Indeed, it raises a sad smile to compare make no truce with the Septembriseurs, the language in which she speaks of the the assassins of the prisoners. Nor were turbulence of the populace at this time they slow to answer to a call which was with that which she used when the op- that of their own consciences; and the pression of her own friends had shown National Convention was swayed by her the justice of mob-law. Roland, im- their character and talents. But, unfor: mediately on his arrival in Paris, joined tunately, the legislature was weak and the society of the Jacobins and made him- powerless, and the revolutionary cutself very active as a member of the Cor- throat Commune was all-powerful. For responding Committee. Utterly to his the time Paris was a despot and the rest own and to his wife's surprise, he was, I of France a slave. on the 24th of March, 1792, appointed

With the fall of the Girondists came,

of course, the fall of Roland. In Janu- procured from her guardians, the fears ary, 1793, he had resigned a place which of the revolutionary tribunals lest her it had for some time been a dishonor to eloquent voice should be heard at the hold. But this was not enough to ap- trial of the Girondists, the fortitude with pease such enemies as Robespierre, Hé- which she bore the sharpest “slings and bert, and Marat. On or about the 31st arrows of outrageous fortune," the seof May, his arrest was decreed by the renity of mind that enabled her to write Revolutionary Committee, and he fled. her memoirs untroubled even in the His wife, who had something of the shadow of death, and, lastly, the high Roman in her composition, made no at- courage with which she went to the tempt to escape.

scaffold. It was not a Christian end, for "I thought it quite right,” says she, “ that Madame Roland had long forsworn the Roland should elude the popular fury and the faith of her early years; but it was an talons of his enemies. As for me, their in- end of which a Roman or a Spartan terest to do me harm could not be so great; might have been proud. Her husband, to kill me would be an act so detestable that as she had prophesied, committed suicide they would not care to incur its odium; to

on hearing of her faté. put me in prison would scarcely serve them, and would, as far as I was concerned, be no dame Roland's life and character to

There is, however, one point in Magreat misfortune. If they had some shame and went through the usual forms of interrogat- which we must revert, inasmuch as it ing me, etc., I should have no difficulty in forms the main feature of M. Dauconfounding them; that might even serve to ban's interesting, though somewhat enlighten those who were really deceived with grandiloquent etude. It had always regard to Roland. If they actually instituted been suspected that, during the last year a new 2d of September (the date of the mas

or two of her life, she had nourished for sacres), it could only be in the event of their

some one of the Girondist leaders a having in their power all the upright deputies, and of all being lost in Paris. In that case I

warmer affection than the cold friendship would rather die than be a witness of the and esteem she felt for her husband. She ruin of my country; I should feel honored herself had made no secret of the fact, hy being included among the glorious victims adverting to it pretty openly in several sacriticed to the rage of crime. The fury as- passages of her memoirs ; but these suaged on me would be less violent against passages had nearly all been suppressed Roland, who, once safe from this crisis, might by the first editor, M. Bose, and are again render great services to some portions of

only now France. Thus one of two things must happen:

restored. In her “last either I am only in danger of an imprison- thoughts," written when she had abanment and of a judicial procedure which I shall doned all hope and was contemplating be able to render useful to my country and to suicide, after addressing her husband and my husband, or, if I must die, it will only be her child, she exclaims : in an extremity in which life will be hateful

" And thou whom I dare not name! thou to me.”

whom men will some day better appreciate, To these reasons, as we shall have pitying our common sorrows, thou whom the further occasion to show, must be added most terrible of passions did not prevent from Madame Roland's love for one of the respecting the barriers of virtue, wouldst thou Girondist leaders. But such words, be where we can love one another without wrong,

mourn to see me preceding thee to a place it remembered, are not in her mouth

where nothing will prevent our union? There mere empty gasconade. Nothing in her all pernicious prejudices, all arbitrary excluwords or actions during the term of her sions, all hateful passions, and all kinds of imprisonment belies these sentiments. tyranny are silent. I shall wait for thee there Never once did she stoop to beg any fa- and rest." vor from her tormentors, or cease to The whole piece ends with these speak to them with the contempt they words: “Farewell.

No, from deserved. But into the details of that thee alone this is no separation; to quit imprisonment, and of her trial and death, the earth is to draw nearer to thee.” we must forbear to enter. We will not Hitherto the name, and, owing to M. describe the cruel farce of her release Bose's mutilations, even the existence, and recapture, the respect with which of this Platonic though impassioned she inspired even the fallen women in the lover had remained doubtful. But toprison, the favors her gracious conduct wards the close of last year, an acciden

« AnteriorContinuar »