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unmercifully. Thank goodness,' said the author of La Fée aur Miettes, that Gustave's coat has at last got what it sadly wanted, a good brushing.'
At different epochs be has reviewed almost all the cotemporary liter. ature in pieces of incontestible worth. Their titles in collection, are La Poesie, le Theatre, et le Roman Contemporaires-Les Royaates Littéraires-De l'Etat du Theatre en Frunce—Les Amitiés Littéraires -Moralite de la Puesie—De la Critique Française–De la Langue Française, &c.
Gustave Planche is never niggardly of praise (when deserved), and never condemns without cause, that is to say, without a cause which to us often appears in sufficient, but perfectly conclusive to himself. He is the reverse of a venal critic. His lodgings are never seen en. cumbered with rich spoils, won at the pen's point from theatrical kings and queens, or other vain imbeciles who are in such terror of the gruff voice of the press. He has never learned to chaunt, therefore much will be forgiven to him. His chief defect is his forced sympathy with Buloz in his literary likings and dislikings : still he sometimes kicks against the traces.
One day he presented a scathing article on Alexander Dumas. Every sentence was a whip stroke : the insolent Scapin of literature was literally cut away to a thread.
• My dear fellow,' said Buloz; “Dumas writes with us. I never fire on my own people; modify the article. This is the way I modify it,' said Planche, throwing the manuscript into the fire. The act was the more heroic, as he was at the moment in absolute des. titution. It was in November, and his pantaloons were of the lightest description of Summer wear.
It would be natural to suppose, from the majestic movement of Dr. Johnson's sentences, and the accurate adjustment of their parts to each other, that composition cost him much labor, while in reality it required not much more than a mere exertion of his thinking powers. Mirecourt nakes the same remark concerning the ample form and the harmony of Gustave Planche's periods, adding that no living writer composes with greater ease to himself.
“ Louis Napoleon has a high esteem for the critical talent of Gustave Planche. His cabinet is never without a copy of the Revue des D-ux Mondes open at one of his articles.
Immediately after bis accession to the throne, he wrote to our hero, inviting him to select any office he pleased in the 'Administration of the Fine Arts,' even the chief management, if it suited him. Planche considered that if he took office he should change his life, renounce his liberty, wash his hands, and wear stiff new clothes. He thanked the Emperor and declined the Imperial favor.
A personage high in the department bitterly complained one day to Buloz of the remarks of Planche on the public works then in course of execution. • Have a care sir,' said Buloz; ‘His Majesty sets great value on his opinions.' He paid a visit at once to the critic, and
mentioned the circumstance. Gustave arose from his sick bed, took the Emperor's letter from a drawer, and read it out for him. When you see this gentleman again,' said he, tell him that I could occupy his office to-morrow if I chose.'
This man who despises official salary, and ease, continues to labor for the public, and for art. On the occasion of the UNIVERSAL EXHIBITION, he wrote a series of truly superior articles. Still the same certainty of judgment, the same profound knowledge, the same masterly, simple, and pure style. Recently he bas resumed the consideration of the works of the great sculptor whom France has just lost, David Angers."
Sue and Planche were living men when their biographies were skeiched. The reader being aware that both have gone to their accounts, would probably find Mirecourt's handling ill-timed and too severe, if he did not keep the other fact before him, while reading the article. Undisguised dislike towards Sue, is all along apparent, while great respect for the critical powers, and conteinpt for the sensual habits of Planche, are equally evident. It will do no harm to such of our younger readers as have got through the Mysteries (taking for granted that they have never scraped acquaintance with the Jew), and who are disposed from the apparent goodness of the author's heart, to go the whole way with him in his moral and social projects-it will do no harm, we repeat, to be made acquainted with his manuer of life as shown above, and to be reminded how unwise it would be to expect pure and refreshing waters from such a muddy and unhealthy source.
It is difficult to conceive how such sound judgment, and loftiness of thought, and pure taste, could be united to such grovelling propensities as held the mastery in the case of Planche. Our own Goldsmith may be quoted to us as another striking instance; but there are many differences. If the parest good nature and feeling prevail in his writings, they were also eviuced in his prodigal generosity. If his morals were not correct, his debts unpaid, and if his life generally was not model for imitation, and if the spirit and character of bis writings inculcate a conduct the reverse of his own, he was still no hypocrite. He loved and revered everything that is good and excellent in its nature, but strength of resolve was wanted ; and he was not proof, during these hours when the soul's sentinels are not at their post, to the seductions of
* In the Illusions of Literature, Irish QUARTERLY REVIEW, No. xxi. there are a few satirical allusions to this Artist's manner.
sociality, the pleasures of the table, and the irregnlarities to which they are preludes. In his thinking moments he felt the evil effects of his weakness of purpose; and would warn his readers of the snares from wliich he had the wish but not the force to free himself. And if his writings are pure, and tend to make us in love with all virtues, prudence in particular, they were the genuine and natural emanations of his head and heart at the moment of composition.
Planche's was altogether a sensual nature, and consequently fully disposed to all the agreeable impressions received through the medium of the senses. Hence his love of mereæsthetic arts, and the pure taste acquired in the daily contemplation of their finest productions. He deserves no more credit for his knowledge and taste in this department, than the lark does for springing into the air, and singing his song of joy on a fine Summer morning.
We proceed to some incidents in Balzac's career, repeating that our critic's estimation of him must be taken at a discount, for there is throughout his sketch, a strong leaven of personal liking for his subject.
“ Honoré de Balzac was born in Tours, 20th May, 1799, in the house of the Rue Imperiale which bears the No. 45. The young Honoré grew up along with two charming young girls his sisters, whose amusements he would not condescend to share, so absorbed was he from his early years, with a precocious inspiration which continually carried biin off into the world of dreams.
Mme. Balzac, concerned to see a child so young subject to such abstractions, bought him some toys, but he only selected a fiddle. He seized on it with joy, and exercised his bow from morning till night, crying out from time to time to his elder sister Laura. "Oh! how beautiful!" But when she complained of her ears being fayed by it, he retreated to the wood, and was found two hours after, rasping the catgut, with his eyes cast upward, and streaming down tears of delight."*
At five years of age he read the Scriptures, and lost himself with ecstasy in their mysterious depths. He read every book he could lay hands on before his departure for college; he read every book in the college, dictionaries included; be contrived to be frequently confined for negligence, and read in his prison ; “Seated at the feast of knowledge, he swallowed whole libraries, but than came the difficulty of digestion.” After some days
• Several circuinstances of his youth are recorded in his novel, « Les Lambert."
spent at home in a kind of waking somnambulism, the effervescence ceased, his ideas assumed distinction, and the voluminous furnitnre with which he had filled the chainbers of his brain found their own pegs and corners.
Our philosopher of fourteen knew everything but what was before his eyes. He could not tell the difference between a vineyard and a field of wheat, and carefully preserved a Gourd for several days in a vase, being persuaded by his sister that it was an Indian Cactus. With a glimpse into futurity, he once cried out to his sisters, ' you will one day see me renowned. However he paid dear for his prophesy, for on every occasion the mocking young damsels would accost him with assumed awe and low curtsies, hail to the GREAT Balzac.'
His family having left Tours to reside in Paris where his father had procured a lucrative situation, he passed through his collegiate course with success, and amused himself at home teaching his sisters Latin, and classifying bis increasing library. At twenty-one, his father examined him as to his choice of a profession; he answered • Literature.'
• But do you not know that if you wish to escape being a beggar in that line, you must be a king ?? Well, I will be a king. We may see,' said his mother, that Monsieur has a decided taste for poverty.' "Yes,' said the father, some people are persuaded that they should die in an hospital as a inatter of course.' So the family left the city, Honoré only remaining. le patronised a garret, wrote the most amusing letters to his sisters on the discomforts of his residence, and contracted tooth-aches in his windy apartments, which never afterwards ceased troubling him at intervals. The first literary attempt was an unacted tragedy on the subject of Cromwell, and Charles I. Then in the midst of bodily suffering and dire poverty, he produced forty volumes of novels under the name of Lord R’hoone (anagram of Honoré) and Horace St. Aubin. Finding he was only breaking his head against a wall, he published with a friend's aid, the works of Molière in one volume with a preface by himself, and the works of Fontaine in a similar form; but tbe booksellers would not give their hands to the work, and he only suffered loss by his speculation.
His father, in order to turn his mind from literature in his own person, set him np as head of a printing establishment; the restraints inflicted on the press at the time soon obliged obliged him to dispose of his plant, and he took once more to literature with an additional amount of debt on his back. Le Dernier Chouan, published in 1827, brings him to notice at last, and he travels on in the high way of popularity but not independence.
Mirecourt here takes occassion to cudgel Jules Janin for his unjnst and impudent criticisms, on his man, and classes his Comédie Humaine in eight divisions, Scénes de la Vie Privée, Scènes de la Vie de Province, Scènes de la Vie Parisienne, Scènes de la Vie Politique, Scènes de la Vie Militaire, Scènes de la Vie de Campagne, Etudes Philosophiques and Etudes Analytiques.
“ Balzac is the Benvenuto of modern literature; he carves out his books with admirable care ; all his sentences are chiselled. He excels (so to speak) in melting the materials of the passions, and casting his characters in bronze. Since Moliere, no author has had such success in the exploring of the human heart.
Woman, that eternal despair of the painter of manners, that fugi. tive and mysterious being, that flower of a thousand changing tints, that graceful cameleon with such varied and deceptive hues--woman has in him, found at once, her naturalist, her historian, her poet. She has revealed to him the secret of her joys and her woes ; she permits him to explain her airs and graces, her gossippings, her dis. dains, her preferences, her caprices, and her enjoyments. Every sentence of the great book, in which our mother Eve has written the first line, is faithfully translated by Balzac. He deciphers the most obscure hieroglyphics of sentiment; his lancet lays bare the most delicate fibres of thought. He dissects woman's heart, analyses all its pal. pitations, all its tender emotions. He exhibits in their exquisite and purest essence, the adorable qualities that distinguish them; then he searches out their defects, and seizes on them one by one with woo. derful insight. Shade succeeds to light, and sometimes we discover the demon under the form of an angel. Designs in smiles, perfidies in gesture, diplomacy in the glance,-nothing escapes this skilful anatomist: he seems to possess the key to all the mysteries of human nature.
When we compare the women of Balzac to those of George Sand, we find them as different as sound logic from paradox, as truth from falsehood."
Now, with submission to our critic, and in our poor judg. ment, a man must be a moral monster to possess such qualities of penetration or intuitive knowledge as described above. A true man or true woman as God has formed them, will ever find it impossible to enter into the other's distinctive nature, and draw a faithful psychological picture thereof. Is it possible that a mau sensible to feminine beauty, and whom no influence could possibly make fall in love with an ugly woman, could bring sensibly before his mind the processes going on in the heart of