Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

1

of holy edifices, and which are brought out only on? certain days, we keep the national song as an extreme arm for the great necessities of the country. Ours received from circumstances a peculiar character, which makes it at the same time more solemn and more sinister : glory and crime, victory and death, seem intertwined in its chorus.3 It was the

song

of patriotism, but it was also the imprecation of rage. It conducted our soldiers to the frontier, but it also accompanied our victims to the scaffold. ....

The Marseillaise preserves the echo4 of the song of glory and the shriek of death; glorious as the one, funereal like the other, it reassures the country, whilst it makes5 the citizen turn pale.

LAMARTINE, Histoire des Girondins."

VOLTAIRE.

Doubtless, nature had endowed Voltaire with the most wonderful faculties; such powers of intellect were not entirely the result of education and of circumstances; still, would it not be possible to show that the employment of these talents was constantly directed by the opinions of the time, and that the desire of succeeding and of pleasing, the first motive of nearly all writers, guided Voltaire every moment of his life?

But then, too, no one was more susceptible than

7

2

i From the roofs of holy edifices, aux voûtes des temples —% and which are brought out only on, et qu'on n'en sort qu'à—3 intertwined in its chorus, entrelacés dans ses refrains—4 the echo, un retentissement _5 whilst it makes, et fait. 6 Motive, mobile—7 but then, too, mais aussi.

he of yielding to such impressions; his genius presents, as it seems to us, the singular phenomenon of a man most frequently wanting in that faculty of the mind which we call reflection, and at the same time endowed, in the highest degree, with the power of feeling and expressing himself with wonderful vivacity. Such is undoubtedly the cause of his success and of

his errors.

5

This habit of looking at all things from one single point of view, and of yielding to the actual sensations produced by an object, without thinking of those which it might give rise to in other circumstances, has multiplied the contradictions of Voltaire, has often led him away from justice and reason, has injured the plan of his works and their perfect harmony. But an absolute yielding to impressions, a continual impetuosity of feeling, a most delicate and lively irritability, have produced that pathos, that irresistible enthusiasm, that spirit6 of eloquence and pleasantry, and that continual grace which flows from boundless facility. And when reason and truth happen to be clothed in this brilliant exterior, they then acquire the most seducing charm, they seem to be born without effort, all radiant with a direct and natural light; and their interpreter leaves far behind him all those who seek them with difficulty, through 8 judgment, comparison, and experience.

Had the first success of Voltaire been less signal;9

8

1 As it seems to us, à ce qu'il nous semble— of looking at all things from, d'envisager tout sous—3 has injured, a nui à 4 an absolute yielding to, un abandon entier à --5 pathos, pathétique-_6 spirit, verve

-7 to be, etc......exterior, viennent à être revêtues de ces brillants dehors-8 with difficulty, through, péniblement, par— had, etc...... signal, si les premiers succès de ý. eussent été moins éclatants.

had it not suddenly invested him with a glory which caused him to be sought by men of rank and wealth, he would no doubt have preserved more modesty and caution. The character of his first writings shows us that he did not bring into the world a very independent spirit. .... But when the young author, elated by the applause of the theatre, and still more by the flattering familiarity of some great men, saw that he had imposed an useless restraints upon himself, and that the more he mocked at all things, the better he should succeed in pleasing those whose friend he flattered himself he was, then he lost by degrees the reserve which he had at first maintained, and was emboldened to speak of all things with irreverence.

BARANTE, Littérature Française au XVIIIe siècle."

MOUNT VESUVIUS.

a

6

The torrent of fire is of a dusky hue; yet when it ignites a vine or a tree, it sends forth a clear bright blaze; but the lava itself is of that lurid tint, such as one imagines infernal fire ; 6 it rolls on slowly like a sand, black by day, red by night. One hears as it approaches a crackling sound, that alarms the more from its slightness, 9-cunning seems joined with

i Caused his to be sought, le fit rechercher_2 elated by, enivré de

an useless restraint, des bornes inutiles—4 the more he mocked at all things, plus il se jouerait de tout.

5 It sends forth, on en voit sortir—6 such, etc....., fire, tel qu'on se représente un fleuve de l'enfer — by, de a crackling sound, un petit bruit d'étincelles — that, etc .....slightness, qui fait d'autant plus de peur qu'il est léger.

eyer

waves.

strength. Thus secretly advances the royal tiger with stealthy tread. This lava creeps on slowly, yet loses not? a moment; if it encounter a high wall or any building that opposes its progress,

, it

stops, and heaps against the obstacle its black and bituminous flood, and buries it beneath its burning

Its course is not so rapid but that men may fly before it ;3 but like time, it overtakes the old or the imprudent, who from its heavy and silent approach 4 think it easy to escape. Its brightness is so vivid that the earth is reflected in the sky, which appears in perpetual lightning; this again is mirrored? in the sea, and all nature glows in their threefold fires.

The wind is heard, and its effect perceived as it forms 10 a whirlpool of flame in the gulph whence the lava issues: one trembles at what may be passing" in the bosom of the earth, and one feels that a strange fury shakes it beneath one's steps. The rocks which surround the source of the lava are covered with pitch and sulphur, whose colours, indeed, have something unearthly: a livid green, a tawny brown, and a sombre red, form as it were a dissonance to the eye and distress 13 the sight, just as the ear would be distracted by those harsh cries witches would utter, when they conjured down, at midnight,

12

6

1 With stealthy tread, à pas comptés—2 creeps on, etc.......not, avance sans jamais se hâter, et sans perdre—3 but, etc......before it, pour que les hommes ne puissent pas fuir devant elle—4 from its, etc. ......approach, la voyant venir lourdement et silencieusement_5 is reflected, se réfléchit—6 which appears in, et lui donne l'apparence the moon from heaven. All that is near the volcano reminds one of the infernal regions, and the descriptions of the poets were no doubt borrowed from hence. There4 we may conceive how man came to believe in5 the existence of a power of evil, that thwarted the designs of Providence.

-i again is mirrored, à son tour, se répète — 8 glows in, est embrasée par— the wind, etc......perceived, le vent se fait entendre, et se fait voir-10 as it forms, par–11 one trembles, etc......passing, on a peur de ce qui se passe—12 form as it were, forment comme-13 distress, tourmentent.

d'un

MADAME DE STAËL,Corinne."

A FROST-BITTEN NOSE.

8

a

One day I took it into my head to go my rounds 8 on foot. I armed myself from head to foot 10 against the inroads 11 of the cold; I enveloped myself in 12 a large Astracan frock-coat, I buried my ears in a 13 furred cap, I wound round my neck a Cashmere scarf, and sallied 14 into the street, the only part of my person that was exposed to the air being the tip of

my nose. 15

At first everything went on admirably; I was even surprised at the little impression the cold made upon me, and I laughed to myself 16 at the many tales I had heard on the subject.17 I was, moreover, delighted that chance had given me this opportunity of becoming acclimatized. However, as the two first

1 When they, etc......from heaven, quand elles appelaient, de nuit, la lune sur la terre— reminds, etc......regions, rappelle l'enfer—3 from hence, de ces lieux-_1 there, c'est là que—5 man came to believe in, les hommes ont cru à—o a power of evil, un génie malfaisant.

7 I took it into my head to, je me décidai de—8 go my rounds, faire mes courses—9 on foot, en me promenant-10 from head to foot, de pied en cap—11 inroads, hostilités — 12 in, de—13 Í buried my ears in a......, je m'enfonçai un......sur les oreilles—14 sallied, je m'aventurai—15 the only, etc......nose, n'ayant de toute ma personne que le nez à l'air

to myself, tout bas—17 the many tales I......on the subject, tous les contes que j'eu......

16

« AnteriorContinuar »