« 上一頁繼續 »
My love for him was the same as I felt for the deity, the sun, the ocean. With this difference, however, that l ceased to love the latter objects, concentrating upon him the enthusiasm which I had been lavishing upon the other works of the Creator. “You are right in accounting poetry, deleterious to the mind and the peace of mankind. It has made desolate the world of reality, so cold, so sterile, so dreary, in contrast with the sunny visions which it has created around us. Drunk with its empty promises, cradled in its sweet illusions, I have never been able to resign myself to the positive of life. Poetry gave me new senses, immense, magnificent, and which there was nothing on earth that could satisfy. My soul grew too vast to content itself with the paltry reality for an instant. Every day witnessed the sacrifice of my duty to my pride, the ruin of my pride made desolate by its own triumphs. A violent conflict it was, and a deplorable victory; for in disdaining the actual, I came to contemn myself, a vain and stupid creature who could enjoy nothing, from her avidity to enjoy luxuriously everything in the universe. “Yes, it was a great and a painful contest; for poetry, while intoxicating gives no sign it is deceiving us. It dis#. itself in the severe and simple eauty of truth. It takes a thousand various shapes—a man, an angel, even God himself. We attach ourselves to the shadow, we pursue, we embrace it, we fall prostrate before it; we fancy we have found the god and gained the land of promise. But, alas ! the fugitive decorations vanish before the eye of analysis or experience, and human misery is not left a rag of illusion to cover its nakedness. Oh then, it is that man breaks forth into tears and blasphemy. He defies heaven—he demands the reason of deluding him—he abandons himself to despair—he throws him upon his couch, and desires to die.” This leads us fitly to the other head of accusation against George Sand, which we shall notice—her atheism or infidelity. G. Sand, indeed, is not an orthodox Catholic : not even a Christian, perhaps, according to the rubric. . But her voluminous works are instinct with the religious, that is, the venerative spirit. There is not one, we venture to affirm, that does not indicate not only the decidedly religious temperament (which Ierhaps is inseparable from genius) but
also, a deep development of the religious sentiments, and an enlightened faith in a Creator and a Providence,—for example, Spiridion. . We should not recommend her as a safe instructor in the dogma of Christianity; but we must say, we know no theological writer better calculated to instil the spirit of the Divine Founder of that system. As to her opinions of the system itself, we are not unwilling they should be collected from the subjoined extracts, though uttered in a fictitious character. We shall only say for them, that they would probably have passed, in the Christian sect of the Gnostics, or even in the orthodox Church of the Platonic Christianity.— Lelia still relates to Pulcherie the incidents of her life in a convent, whither she had retreated, a la mode, after her disappointment in wedlock and the world. “l had also some days of tranquillity and reason. The religion of Christ, which I had adapted to my comprehension, and my wants, shed a genial suavity, a healing balm into the wounds of my soul. In truth, I have never much troubled myself to ascertain, if the degree of divinity allotted to the human soul, did or did not authorize men to be called prophets, gods, redeemers. Bacchus, Moses, Confucius, Mahomet, Luther have accomplished grand missions upon earth, and given powerful impulses to the march of the human mind, in the career of ages. Were they of the same species with us, those men to whom we owe it that we think, that we live, today? Those colossal minds whose energies have organized and established societies, were they not of a nature higher, purer, more celestial than ours ? Unless we deny God and the divine essence of the human intellect, what right or reason have we to deny, or to disregard the most exalted of his works He who, born amongst men, lived without sin and without infirmity—he who dictated the Gospel, and transformed the ancient systems of morality into that which has served mankind for a long succession of ages—can he not be truly said to be the Son of God 2 “Providence is pleased to send us alternately, men, powerful for evil, and others powerful for good. The Supreme Will that governs the universe, when it desires that the human mind shall make a large stride in advance or retrocession, in a particular section of the globe, can, without awaiting the solemn march of ages and the slow operation of natural causes, effect these sudden transitions by the arm or the eloquence of a man created for the purpose. “Jesus having, accordingly, come to trample the proud diadem of the Pharisees under his bare and dusty feet— having abolished the ancient law, and announced to future ages that grand principle of spiritualism necessary to the regeneration of an enervated race—erecting himself a giant in the history of heroes, and separating in twain the reign of the senses and the reign of ideas— having annihilated with an inflexible hand all the animal power of man, and opened to his intellect a new career, boundless, incomprehensible, ... perhaps eternal; if then you are a believer in God, will you not, kneeling, say: This man is the Word which was with God at the beginning He has proceeded from God, he returns to Him; he is for ever with him, seated on his right hand, because he has ransomed mankind. “God who sent Jesus from heaven, Jesus who was God upon earth, and the Spirit of God which inspired Jesus and which filled up the interval, formed a connecting link between Jesus and God— is not this a trinity simple, indivisible, necessary to the empire and the existence of Christ Every one who believes and prays, every one who is placed by faith in communion with God, does he not present in his person an image of this mysterious trinity more or less faint according to the vividness of the revelations of the celestial, to the human, spirit The Soul, the Yearning of the soul for some uncreated object, and the mysterious End of this sublime aspiration—all this, is it not Divinity, revealed in three distinct forms, FoRCE, EFFORT, WicToRy?”—Vol. ii. p. 40-1. Again: strolling, one day, to ease her anguish, into a ruined chapel, Lelia encounters a statue of the Saviour in white marble, buried in a broken niche, and lighted by only a few rays that crawled through the rubbish and “threw a singular sadness over the beautifully pale forehead of the Christ.” “I took pleasure in contemplating this poetical and melancholy symbol. What ..". earth more touching than the image of physical torture, crowned with the expression of celestial joy! What grander thought, what profounder emblem, than this God-martyr, bathed in tears and blood, extending his outstretched arms to heaven 0 | image of suffering, affixed
upon a cross and ascending like the prayer of innocence, like the breath of incense, from earth to heaven. Expiatory offering of pain, who soarest, all bare and bloody, to the throne of the Lord! Radiant hope, symbolical cross, whereon are stretched and repose those limbs lacerated by torture | Thorny crown which encirclest that brow, the sanctuary of intellect—a fatal diadem set upon the power of man! I have often invoked you, often prostrated myself before you! Often has my soul been offered upon that à. beneath those thorns ! Under the name Christ, it has often adored human tribulation, cheered by divine hope–-Resignation, that is, the acceptance of this life—Redemption, that is, patience in the throes of agony, and ho in the arms of death.”—Idem, p. 47. e must now bring this cursory notice of George Sand to a close. We are sensible that it furnishes but a very imperfect account of her book; but, besides that this was a subsidiary consideration, it presents, we are bold to say, the fairest and (as far as we are aware) the fullest that has hitherto appeared in our language. Our object, it will be remembered, was to awaken attention to the prevalent and systematic violation, by a dogmatical criticism, and after it, of course, by intolerant ignorance, of the great principle of freedom of Discussion and Speculation. As an exemplification of this abuse it was that the author and the book we have been considering, have been introduced—the author, proclaimed by this tribunal as the deliberate propagator of licentiousness, infidelity, and we know not what other abominations; the book denounced as the manual of those diabolical doctrines. To show what ground there is for these charges, we have selected from the book the most obnoxious opinions respecting marriage and religion, the princial topics of the impeachment. They ho been submitted in full, and, in accordance with our own theory of the critical functions, without pronouncing any judgment, and almost without a comment. t is for the careful and candid reader to say whether they sustain, whether the even countenance the atrocities imputed. Let it farther be borne in mind, that this is but the dark side of the book; that it was our point to make out the strongest case for its calumniators, and in fine, that, of all the works of the author, “Lelia,” is, in fact, the most open to misconstruction, the most amenable to abuse. If, by what we have said and shown, the reader, soaring alike above popular prejudice and critical cant, should be induced to prosecute his acquaintance with G. Sand, through this and the rest of her voluminous writings, we can engage that he will find her, throughout, not only full of that profound knowledge of the human character, and especially the heart, of those comprehensive and generally enlightened views of the organic infirmities and actual abuses of society, set forth, moreover, in a diction of unequalled beauty and eloquence—all which, even enemies allow her; but he will also find her indefatigable as uncompromising in herefforts for the melioration, breathing the most benevolent aspirations for the destinies, of mankind. He will wonder how the following passage from another of her works,” can have been no less true than it is pathetic. “Because, in writing my little tales to earn the bread that was refused me, l have been often unable to for§: having been unhappy, because I have ared to say that there are beings miserable in the marriage state—miserable by reason of the infirmity which is made a duty of the wife, by reason of the brutality which is permitted the husband, by reason of the turpitudes which society throws a veil over, and protects with the mantle of abuse—because of this, I have been declared immoral, I have been denounced as if I were the enemy of the human race.” He will ask with astisnohment, and, no doubt, indignation, how this noble woman, because her generous complaints or her philanthropic speculations may have alarmed some stupid prejudice, or some brutalizing belief, has come, in the face of an enlightened world, to be successfully decried as the apostle of profligacy and irreligion But let him look to history; it is but the old treatment, from which Christ himself was not exempted, of the best benefactors of the people : We have spoken thus far of “Lelia.” with especial reference to the main object had in view. , Let us say a parting word of its philosophical character, in a general respect. The scheme and scope of the book seem to have been, to present a symbolical epitome of the history of human progress, a psychological itinerary of the career of humanity. Lelia, the principal
the several grand stages, successively, through which civilization has passed— (the other characters expressing, perhaps, its more particular or partial manifestations.) Her “first love” with Stenio, may signify the earlier stages, corresponding with what are called the pastoral and heroic times, when mankind were certainly more content, if not more happy— this was the period of the senses and the imagination, and may well include the whole of the civilization of antiquity, which remained of this character, essentially, to the last. Then came with Christianity,(or Christianity with them 7) repentance and reflection, which are symbolized in Leila's retirement to, and life in a convent—this is the religious period, the “ages of Faith.” Her flight from the convent, her wanderings and skeptical colloquies with Trenmor, the reformed profligate and materialist, represent the emancipation of the mind from ecclesiastical despotism, the period of Doubt— probably the actual stage of our civilization. This may be considered a fanciful or a forced interpretation of “Lelia," since the author, as already remarked, has but very imperfectly developed her design. Indeed, she has in the book so often referred to, (Lettres d'un Voyageur) avowed a different construction of it herself, describing it “A hideous crocodile skilfully dissected—a heart bleeding all over, laid bare and presenting an object of horror and compassion.” Appearing in a production inspired by her better genius (a book which combines all the excellencies with none of the blemishes of George Sand)—the modest severity of this estimate of “Lelia" may, not unreasonably, be regarded as in some degree expiatory and apologetic. Be this as it will, that ours is the true conception of it, is, at least, a legitimate development of its idea, a logical deduction from its premises, a systematic disposition of its ill-ordered fragments, may be gathered, we think, from the subjoined passage, which is produced for the benefit of the reader who has yet had no better means of judging; and with which we close this paper, as the author has her book. It occurs in Lelia's lastinterview with Trenmor–time, midnight; scene, the summit of a lofty mountain, cleft with deep ravines, amidst torrents and tempests; a subject for the terrible pencil of Salvator Rosa. Tren
personage, represents, as before intimated,
.* Lettres d'un Voyageur.
mor, the representative of the “Materialism” of the present day, remonstrates with Lelia, on the folly of her sublime discontent and restless research after happiness and truth. To whom Lelia (“Spiritualism”) replies in the following burst of an eloquence to be characterized only by the epithet awful; and then expires. “There are hours in the night when I feel overwhelmed with an intolerable indisposition. At first, it is a vague dejection, an indefinable uneasiness. Entire nature seems to press upon me, and I crawl along, crushed and bowed beneath the burthen of existence, like a dwarf obliged to carry a giant upon its shoulders. At those moments 1 yearn for expansion, for consolation, and would fain embrace ...the universe in one filial and fraternal caress; but the universe seems to repulse me harshly, and turns to me but to crush me beneath it—as if I, a miserable atom, insulted the universe by inviting it to my embrace. Then my poetic and tender rapture is transmuted to horror and reF. I turn to hating the everlasting eauty of the stars, and the splendor o those objects which feed my ordinary reveries appears now but the inexorable indifference of power for weakness. I am at discord with everything, and my soul emits a shriek from the bosom of creation like the snapping of a string amid the triumphal melodies of a celestial lyre. If the sky be serene, I fancy it an inflexible god, who is an utter stranger to my wishes and my wants. If the tempest rages, it is the image of my bosom— bootless suffering, o cries. “Oh yes—yes! alas ! despair reigns throughout, and woes and wailings proceed from every pore of creation. Yonder sighing billow writhes in agony upon the beach, the wind weeps mournfully through the forest. Those trees that droop, and rise to be again prostrated beneath the lash of the storm, are all undergoing a terrible torture. There is an unfortunate and accursed being—a being immense, enormous, such as the world we inhabit cannot contain. This being is invisible and omnipresent, and his voice fills all space with one eternal sigh. A prisoner in immensity, he shakes himself, he struggles, he knocks his head and shoulders against the confines of earth and heaven. He cannot pass them; all things constrain him, all crush him, all curse him, all hate him. What is this being, and whence does he
come 2 Is he the rebellious angel who was expelled from the Empyrean, and this world, is it the hell which serves for his prison? Is it thou, spirit of Force, whom we feel and perceive? Is it you, Wrath and Despair, who reveal yourselves to, and are received by our senses? ls it thou, eternal Fury, who thunderest above our heads and rollest thy terrors through the brazen skies Is it thou, spirit unknown but not unfelt, who art the master or the minister, the slave or the tyrant, the gaoler or the martyr How many a time have I felt thy scorching flight above my head How often has thy voice drawn tears of sympathy from the recesses of my heart and made them flow like mountain streams or the rains of heaven' When thou art within me, I hear a voice crying unto me: “Thou sufferest, thou sufferest.” I, on my part, would fain embrace thee and weep npon thy puissant heart. It seems to me as if my agony was infinite, like thine, and that thou hadst need of my love to complete thine eloquent lamentation. And I, too, exclaim, “Thou sufferest, thou sufferest.” But thou passest on, thou flyest away. . . . Thou alightest, thou fallest asleep. A single moongleam dispels the cloud that surrounds thee; the smallest star that twinkles behind thy shroud seems to mock thy misery, aud to make thee silent. Th
spectre sometimes appears to me descending in a whirl-wind, like an enormous eagle, whose wings o'er-canopy the whole ocean, and whose expiring scream dies away into the depths of the billows, and I behold thee vanquished— like me vanquished, like me weak, like me prostrate. The heavens are illuminated for joy, and I am petrified with a sort of stupid terror. Prometheus, Prometheus, can it be thou—thou who wouldst rescue man from the bonds of destiny Is it thou, who, crushed by a jealous God, and devoured by thine own incurable bile, didst sink prostrate upon thy, rock without having effected the deliverance either of man or of thyself his sole friend, his father, perhaps his true God? Men have given thee a thousand symbolical names—Audacity, Despair, Madness, Rebellion, Maledic
tion. Some have called thee Satan; others, Crime. For me, I call thee DeSire.
I, a sybil, a desolate sybil, the spirit of ancient times, shut up in a brain rebellious to divine inspiration; a broken lyre, a silent instrument, whose tones the present generation are incapable of comprehending, but whose bosom emits the compressed murmurings of eternal harmony I, a priestess of death, who am conscious of having been a pythoness, of having wept, of having predicted, but who i. who know not, alas ! the formula of healing. Yes! yes! I remember abysses of truth and extasies of inspiration; but the clue (mót) of human destiny, this I have forgotten; but the talisman of redemption, that I have lost. And yet I have witnessed a world of wonders and when suffering oppresses, when indignation devours me, when I feel Prometheus agitate my heaving bosom, and lash with his broad pinions the rock whereto he is riveted, when hell rumbles beneath, like a volcano about to engulph me, when the spirits of ocean come to bathe my feet, and those of air to chafe my burning brow. . . . . O ! then a prey to a delirium without name, to a despair without limit, I invoke the master and the unknown friend, who could enlighten my spirit and unbind my
tongue . . . . . . . . but I float—float in the abyss of darkness, and my weary arms can grasp but illusory shadows.
O, Truth, Truth, to find thee I have plunged into abysses, the mere sight of which would strike dizzy the bravest of men. I have accompanied Dante and Virgil through the seven gyrations of the magical vision. I have leaped with Curtius into the gulph that was to close upon him for ever. I have followed Regulus into the instrument of his hideous punishment. Not a spot of earth that does not bear traces of my lacerated body. I have attended Magdalene to the foot of the cross, and my brow was bathed in the blood of Christ and the tears of Mary. I have searched all things-—I have
suffered all things—I have believed all things—I have resigned myself to all things. I have knelt before every gibbet—been burned at every stake—worshipped on every altar. I have asked Love for its pleasures—Faith for its mysteries—Pain for its merits. I have offered myself to God under every form; I have examined my own heart with a ferocious minuteness; I have torn it from my bosom, dissected it into a thousand pieces, pierced it with daggers to know it thoroughly. I have offered fragments of it to every supernal and every infernal od. I have evoked every spectre—I ave wrestled with every demon—I have supplicated every saint and angel—I have sacrificed to every passion. Truth! Truth thou hast not revealed thyself to me; for ten thousand years I have sought thee, and I have sought thee in vain. “And for ten thousandyears, as the only answer to my cries, as the sole solace of my agony, I hear thee send over this accursed earth, the despondent sigh of imotent desire For ten thousand years have felt thee in my heart without the power to translate thee into the language of the intellect—without being able to discover the dread sesame which would reveal thee to the world, and establish thy reign upon earth and in heaven. Forten thousand years I have cried through the Infinite: “Truth : Truth 2 For ten thousand years the Infinite has answered: “Desire! Desire P O' desolate sybil, O voiceless pythoness, break, then, thy head against the rocks of thy cave, and mingle thyrage-foaming blood with the surf of the sea, for thou imaginest thyself in possession of the omnipotent secret, and for ten thousand years thou hast sought it in vain” . . . . . . . She dies.