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Modern French Literature

Boston Quarterly Review, April, 1842
Art. V.  Spiridion. Par George Sand, (Madame Dudevant.)

We have for some time been seeking an opportuni­ty of offering a few thoughts on modern French Litera­ture. With the modern political and philosophical writ­ings of France we have for several years been familiar ; but we had paid no attention to its lighter literature, till we saw it denounced in no measured terms, in an article, published, three or four years since, in the London Quarterly Review. That article led us to believe that modern French Literature must possess some admirable qualities, and be deserving of no lit­tle respect; for we have generally been in the habit of construing the Quarterly's denunciations into high praise. Its denunciations were so loud, and so bit­ter, that we lost as little time as possible in making ourselves acquainted, to some extent, with the class of writers condemned ; and we have been not altogether unrewarded for our pains.

However, taking modern French Literature, as re­presented by Victor Hugo, H. de Balzac, Alexandre Du­mas, and George Sand, otherwise Madame Dudevant, we cannot say that we have found as much to approve, as we were led by the outcries of the Quarterly to expect. We have found not much to justify the charges of inde­cency, of licentious and antisocial tendency ; but we have found more than we looked for, offensive to our taste and feelings. In a word, we have not been able, taking it as a whole, to sympathize with it; or to find either the pleasure or the profit, in becoming ac­quainted with it, that we have a right to expect from  the Literature of a refined and highly civilized peo­ple.

France has few, if any writers, that can compare ad­vantageously with Scott, Buhver, Washington Irving, or even Charles Dickens. Victor Hugo by no means wants genius, talent, or learning ; but he is misled by his theory of Art, and fails to give us a work that can be read with unmingled pleasure. He is the best of his class. His natural disposition, we should judge to be tender, affectionate, and even sunshiny ; but having adopted the notion, that the grotesque is an essential element of the beautiful, and the horrible of the pathetic, he gives us works, which chill rather than please, and harrow up the nerves, instead of melting the heart. We have never yet been able to submit to the torture of finishing the perusal of his Noire Dame; and the " Last days of a Convict," we have left with the leaves uncut. His Han d'Islande has, however, some passa­ges of great beauty and tenderness. His Dramas are better ; and we have read with much pleasure Marion de Lorme, Angclo, and Uernani, horrible as they cer­tainly are. The Roi s'amnse. and Lucrece Borgia, have proved too much for our nerves. We abandon them to the tender mercies of the London Quarterly Review^
Balzac is certainly a writer of great power and fertil­ity, but there is something dry and hard in his spirit. He lays open the vices and corruptions of society, it must be admitted, with the hand of a master ; nothing can surpass his pictures of its hollowness, its hypocrisy, its vanity, its licentiousness ; but we nowhere meet in him the warm and genial aspiration to something better. We do not feel, while reading him, as we do while reading Buhver. and Boz, or our own Irving, that there is at bottom a genuine love of humanity, a hearty sympathy with mankind, and a strong desire to make society better, more favorable to the growth of religion, virtue, and happiness. We rise from his pages, soured, indignant, and misanthropic. We feel contempt for our race, not love ; and find ourselves disposed to bid them hasten on to the devil, not to sacrifice ourselves for their redemption. Of Alexandre Dumas we know less, than of Hugo, and of the others. He is not, however, so cold and freezing, as de Balzac. He has warmer sympathies, a more genial spirit, and is more able to look on the brighter side of things ; and yet he has his faults, and faults of the same class with those we have point­ed out in Victor Hugo, to whom he is inferior in talent and genius. Of George Sand we will speak more par­ticularly hereafter.

Excluding de Balzac, who seems to write for the Pari­sian Saloons, we may say of modern French Literature, that it is strongly impregnated with what we have sometimes, without much precision, called social de­mocracy. It has a tendency to recognise the rights, the claims, and to some extent the worth, of the masses. It does not bow to the aristocracy, nor court in any respect the high-born and the rich. It is plebeian in its spirit, and recognises, and sometimes without a sneer, the ex­istence of the proletary. Its heroes can be born with­out titles, and it can expose vice in high places. It furthermore is indignant at tyranny, impatient of re­straint, loud in its demand for freedom, and the ele­vation of the masses. It moreover has a certain humani­ty. It opposes itself to cruel and sanguinary punish­ments, and would excite sympathy for even the wick­ed, by showing that they are never utterly abandoned. This is its good side.

But this is the good side of all modern literature. It is a remarkable fact, that since the French Revolution literature has ceased to be aristocratic. Everywhere, or nearly every where, throughout Christendom, and es­pecially in Western Europe and America, there has been a decided disposition among all writers of much note, either to expose the vices of the great, to hold up the more favored classes to ridicule or indignation, or to laud the virtues of the low,  to paint the less fa­vored classes in the most lively colors, and under the most attractive forms. We everywhere meet the ple­beian classes rising into notice or into power. They are no longer introduced upon the stage as subjects of ridicule, for the amusement of the well-born and the refined. They furnish the author his heroes. Their patience under wrong, their quiet and unosten­tatious lives, their simple habits and gentle virtues, or their rights, and the wrongs and outrages to which they are doomed, constitute the materials of his romance. He only can fetch an echo from the heart of this age, who speaks out for universal man, and in tones of sympathy with the wronged and down-trodden. It is welL worth one;s while to trace this tendency. We may see it even in the dominant taste with regard to the use of language itself. In our own language, what scholar would now write in the latinized English of old Dr. Johnson ? Good taste is now to avoid as much as possible the Latin element of the language, and to use those words which are of Teutonic origin. We have discovered an unsuspected richness in the old Anglo-Saxon, and the nearer we approach to the language of Alfred and Edward, the Confessor, the more correct is said to be our taste. In France we see something similar. The writers show an increasing affection for words of Celtic origin, or at least for that portion of their language most in use with the great body of the people. All this is easily accounted for. Formerly the reading public was composed almost entirely of the aristocracy and their retainers ; and of course all works, written with the intention of being published and read, must breathe the tone, and speak the language of the aristocracy. In France and England, the aristocracy were of an, anti-national origin ; they could therefore have but few-sympathies with the great mass of the people, and hence little fondness for the purely national language. But now, the plebeian classes, the body of the nation, demand a literature, and must be addressed in their own tongue. To speak to the hearts of the great mass of the people, we must use the terms witli which they are familiar, the language in which they think, and iti which for generations they have been accustomed 10 express their feelings. Now, as the great body of the Englisli and American people are of Anglo-Saxon origin,
the Anglo-Saxon is their principal mother tongue ; and in addressing them it is necessary to draw upon the Anglo-Saxon funds of the language, because then we speak to them in their mother tongue. The Clergy, once the literati of Europe, educated in the Latin language, made always in all their writings as much use of it as possible. So long as they gave the tone to literature, the national languages, the mother tongues of the people, would be discountenanced. But the clergy are no longer in relation to literature what they once were. The laity have been to school, and now control our literary tastes. The laity have less fond­ness for Latin, and more sympathy with the people who speak their national tongue. This tendency to the Anglo-Saxon elements of the English, and to the old Gallic elements in modern French, and to strkit nation­ality in modern German, indicates the rising importance of the plebeians and the laity, and shows that the cler­gy and the aristocracy count for comparatively little in modern literature.

If we pass from language into the historical works of the day, we shall find the same tendency. We re-publish old Chronicles and Ballads, study the Bards, Scalds, Troubadours, Trouveres, and Minnesiingers. We write the history of the Gauls, the Anglo-Saxons, and Sclavonians. We seek everywhere for the remains of the old conquered races. We sit in judgment on the conqueror, and sympathize with the sufferings of the conquered, endured in silence for so many ages. This tendency is remarked in the brothers Thierry, especially in Augustin, author ot' the History of the Norman Conquest. The tendency this way is first decidedly marked in England by the publicalion of the old English Ballads, by Bishop Percy; but the man, who has perhaps contributed more to it than any other writer, dead or living, is Sir Walter Scott. Whether Scott knew what he was about or not, may be a ques­tion ; but his writings mark a revolution in literature, and contain even a social revolution. We plead guilty to having misconceived the tendency of Scott's literary labors, and of having judged him, on a former occa­sion, too superficially. We have just finished a critical perusal of all his novels, and we arc happy to be able to say that our estimate of his character, and our judg­ment of the tendency of his writings, are altogether more favorable to him than what we have heretofore expressed. His sympathies are not always with pow­er, but almost always, and apparently unknown to him­self, with the conquered or oppressed classes. In re­gard to his own country, he has labored to exhibit the merits, the virtues, the noble qualities of the defeated party. In passing into England he is true to the same tendency, in his Ivanhoe, he has resuscitated the old Saxon race, and showed the struggle between them and their Norman masters, which continued long after the Conquest ; and by so doing he has furnished the scholars of Europe with a key to the real history of modern society. When treating of the English Revo­lution in the seventeenth century, he may not in all cases have been just to the Puritans and Republicans ; but still he is far less unjust to them than is commonly suppos­ed. Then, in selecting his characters, his noblest are always from the lowest or plebeian classes. In Ivanhoe we have Garth, the swineherd, a noble specimen of the true man; and the man, who could have drawn such a character, and so described his exultation, when the collar of bondage was struck from his neck, could not have been without the soul of the freeman. In this same novel, we find his best female character,  a char­acter in which he rises far above his ordinary concep­tion of female worth, and in which he has altogether surpassed himself,  Rebecca, the Jewess, taken from the despised tribe, the persecuted of all lands. Edie Ochiltre, the beggar, may put to shame the whole race of his noble Dukes, Counts, and Barons, and Little Barons. Something of this same tendency is to be found in the prosy Wordsworth. He, all tory as he is, has a fellow-feeling with simple humanity. The ten­dency is still more decided in Bulwer, and altogether more yet in Boz. Amongst ourselves we see it in Irving, in Cooper's Bravo, and Headsman, and in some of Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales.
Now this marks not merely a literary, but a social revolution. These lower classes, these plebeians and proletaries, among whom Scott, Wordsworth, and oth­ers find their heroes, are, at least, so far as concerns England and France, the descendants and representa­tives of the conquered races ; and this tendency which we have marked indicates that a revolution in their fa­vor has in some degree commenced, and is now in pro­gress. The old Anglo-Saxon rises against his Norman master, the simplemau against the gentleman, and seeks to reestablish his language and his rights ; the Gallo-Roman seeks to throw oil* the yoke imposed by the Teutonic Frank, and to be the freeman of his natal soil.

All modern literature bears the marks, if we may so speak, of the revolt of the conquered tribes. It is in­surrectionary, rebellions. Consequently it is held in great horror by the representatives of the conquerors, whenever they perceive its real character and ten­dency. We, whose sympathies are always with the rebels, of course approve this tendency. We discovered it in Buhver, and hence our high regard for his writ­ings ; we discovered it in many of the modern French "writers, and hence the reason of our respect for them ; we did not originally discover it in Scott, Wordsworth, Irving, and Boz, and hence the reason why we have never spoken in their praise. In Irving it is slight, but he belongs after all to modern literature ; in Boz it is strong, but not so strong as a superficial reading would indicate. It will, if we are not much mistaken, show itself stronger, and at the same time gentler still, in the author of The Gentle Boy.

In Scott it is stronger than in any of the rest, though he was probably unaware of the fact. Few, compara­tively speaking, have suspected the real tendency of his writings, and hence the praise he has received from those who dread the revolution, which none more than he has contributed to bring about. We, for our part, belong to the conquered race, if not by blood, at' least by position, and we feel impatience under the yoke of the conqueror. We cherish the old national feeling, and call all our brothers who labor to lvtrirve the losses of the defeated party, to restore in England dominion to the Anglo-Saxon, and in France to the Gaul.

Now, as modern French literature is decidedly ruled by the old Gallic spirit, and in this respect purely na­tional; and as it marks an effort of the mass, who have been held in bondage, to recover the rights originally wrested from them by invading tribes; and not only marks that effort, but strengthens it, and promises to render it successful ; we approve it, we prize it, and bid its authors God speed. Viewed in this light, it is eminently moral and social, tends eminently to the emancipation of the masses, and to the introduction of a better and a nobler social order.
But, viewed under the relation of art, and its bearing on mere private morals, we cannot commend it without important reservations. But in this respect even, we are far from thinking it at all inferior to the great mass of contemporary English literature, while it is decidedly superior to the old French literature. Its general conception is undoubtedly just, but it abuses its freedom from old classic restraints, and runs into innumerable extravagances. Having "come down from the stilts on which it stalked over the stage, in the age of Louis Quatorze, and finding itself on its natural feet, it is so delighted that it frisks about sometimes in a manner quite unseemly, and exhibits a variety of antic motions and tricks, with which we could very easily dispense.

We do not infer the degeneracy of France from this literature, nor that French society is necessarily exceed­ingly corrupt. Nor do we believe this literature will be found generally corrupting. But we should relish it better, if it would veil its horrors, if it would smile less grotesquely, and exhibit less of the satyr. We believe that the writer, who puts us in good humor with ourselves and with the world, who draws us off from the dwarfed and the deformed, to dwell with the grand and beautiful, will do the most for private morals and for social pro­gress. We believe he, who unveils the glories of Para­dise, and permits the sinner to see the beauty and bliss of the saints, will more effectually convert him to God, than he who only exposes to his view the tortures, and fills his ears with the howlings, of the damned. We are sure that when we stand looking upon a smiling landscape, beneath a serene sky, and inhaling the sweet fragrance of flowers, at peace with ourselves and with the world, we are in. our happiest mood to labor for our fellow men, or to give ourselves up to live or to die for a great or noble cause. No doubt virtue leads to hap­piness ; but it is a truth equally deserving our consider­ation, that happiness leads to virtue. The more happy you render your fellow men, the more virtuous will you render them. The man, who finds a paradise in the bosom of his family, who is surrounded by all the charms of home, and whose heart is best formed to en­joy the sweets of domestic affections, the love of wife and children, is not the last to hear the voice of his country or of his race, and to rush to the frontier, to make a rampart of his body against the enemy.

The fault, then, of French literature, a fault which we find also with English literature, is that it presents us too many images of vice, crime, and horror, and does not call forth the warmer, gentler, and holier aspi­rations of our nature. It affects us painfully ; it raises a storm of passion in our bosoms, and leaves us mad and miserable. We have been affected by the night­mare, and it is long after reading it, before our blood circulates freely again, and we recover our wonted strength and equanimity. There may have been a pe­riod in our life when we should have delighted in the stormy passions described, but we are not ashamed to own, that, as we have had occasion from the vicissitudes of life to enlarge our own experience, and to suffer from the wounds that few in the warfare of life can escape, we grow weary of the battle, and come to envy those who cultivate in peace their native vales, and dance to the rustic pipe. We hear not the war-trumpet with delight, and we shrink from the conflict. Thus it is this stormy literature, which only rouses passion and stirs up all within, like the ocean when lashed into fury by the tempest, ceases to charm, and we wish it more peaceful, more serene, more sunshiny.

So much for modern French Literature in general. We come now to George Sand, otherwise Madame Du-devant, though we disclaim in the outset all intention of offering anything like a regular review of her writings. "We have found her loudly and very gener­ally censured, and have therefore, been led to sympa­thize with her. We have heard her called many hard names, and have therefore presumed, without other evidence, that she must have great and positive merits. Moreover, she is a writer of great ability ; we may even say, of powerful genius; the most so of any fe­male writer,' we are acquainted with, ancient or modern. She is hi many respects the first and best of the authors of modern French Literature. We cannot indeed place her above Victor Hugo, but we confess, that we prefer her writings to his, and believe them possessed of great­er aesthetic and moral merits.
In assuming, as we are told she sometimes does, the male attire, Madame Dudevant seems also to assume no little of true masculine thought and spirit. In original­ity, deptii, and vigor of thought and expression, her writings betray very little of the woman. Her style is rich, flowing, graceful, delicate, and at the same time, terse, vigorous, and free from that diffuseness, the be­setting sin of most French writers, and of French fe­male writers in particular. In a word, she writes so well, that for some time she was able to impose upon the acutest critics of France and England, and to make it believed, that George Sand was really, as his name and dress purported, a man. This, which we think is high praise, we presume will be thought by some, in these days of " Woman's Rights," to be but a sorry compliment. Somewhat of a revolution in the relative position^ of the sexes would seem to be going on. Man's long-admitted superiority, which has stamped it­self upon all the institutions of society, and is iuwoveti with the very texture of language itself, is now ques­tioned, and we are told that he must cease to regard himself as lord of this lower world, surrender the sa­cred symbol of authority to woman, don the petticoat, and henceforth handle the distaff. Alas! we have fallen on evil days. With your Mary Wolstonecrafts, Fanny Wrights, Harriet Martineaus, your Chapmans and your Folsorns, we can no longer escape by conceding wo­man's equality to man, but we must own her superior­ity; and instead of thinking that we praise a woman, by saying that she writes almost as well as a man, we must rather praise the man by saying that he writes almost as well as a woman.

Nevertheless, at the risk of being " brained by my lady's fan," we must still hold on to the old doctrine of man's superiority, save in what may be called wo­man's more appropriate sphere of life. In her own sphere, as a wife, and a mother, in the quiet affections and duties of home, which after all is the more important and the more elevated sphere, we readily own woman's equality, and even her superiority; but we question her power to compete successfully with man in auy of the other departments of life. Science is indebted to her for no important discovery, and Art for no master-piece or '//m^/Y^-s-piece. She devotes more time and study to poetry than man does, and yet she has produced no Iliad, no Paradise Lost ; in music she produces nothing, and cannot even equal man in the bare execution of the melodies composed by the great masters. She has succeeded in copying with tolerable accuracy, but has never been able to give us an original picture or an original statue of much merit. Indeed, she generally does not contend for her power to equal man. They, who assert her ability, as a general rule, to compete successfully with man in Art and Science, in the sever­al departments of outdoor as well as indoor life, only expose themselves to her scorn. She does not wish to be, nor does she wish to be considered, superior to man.  Her great want is,  not to love, but to reverence "; and she would soon cease to love man, if she could not look up to him, and reverence him. She is so made,  not so educated, but so made,that she finds the highest and sweetest gratification of her ambition in the success of her husband, or her son. She rarely is ambitious for her own sake. Her desire is unto her husband, in whom she would live and reign, in whose existence she would completely merge her own. It is for him only, or as a mother for her children, that she would acquire wealth, fame, or distinction. It is the order of nature that it should be so, and it is in this way that woman becomes really a " help meet " for man, and the peace and loveliness of domestic life are secured. We think, therefore, our " Woman's Rights " people would do well to let it remain undisturbed. We think also, that there is more gallantry than wisdom in the growing fashion of altering the marriage cove­nant, so that the wife no longer promises to obey her husband.

This last reminds us of another ultraism coming into vogue. There is already a class of radicals among us who think it a gross outrage upon natural rights, that children should be required to obey their parents, and we have even heard it seriously contended that we should have a Rights of Children's Society, to protect the pretty dears from the despotism of their fathers and mothers, fathers more especially ; and to secure them the free and unimpeded enjoyment of the natural lib­erty of going and coming when and where they please. When this society shall have gone into operation, we propose the formation of another to save the needle from its slavery to the pole, and the body from its sub­jection to the law of gravitation. It is intolerable ty­ranny, that of compelling the needle at all seasons, in all weathers, by day and by night, without the least time for rest or relaxation, to " point trembling to the pole," and calls aloud upon all the friends of freedom for redress. Moreover, what slavery more gross or complete than that of our bodies, nay, of all nature to the law of gravitation ? Now, we may as well com­plain of those laws to which the natural world is sub­jected, as of those by which God governs the moral world. This slavery of women and children to the tyrant man, which does so sorely vex the modern friends of freedom, perhaps, correctly rendered, would be merely the protection of the weak and helpless by the strong. The power, man claims over his wife and children, is only that which he needs in order to be the protector of those he loves.
Against this power, so far as concerns the wife, the writings of Madame Dudevant are a loud, indignant, and yet an eloquent and touching protest. Her writings to a very considerable extent seem to have been called forth by a deep sense of the real or imaginary suffer­ings of woman. Women are represented to us as the vic­tims of a false and hollow-hearted civilization, of unjust and tyrannical laws, of barbarous husbands, doomed to be tied to men they cannot love, to suffer from the want of some object for their affections, in a word, to go through life sighing and pining for what they have not, and cannot have, and to die poor, miserable, broken­hearted things. Poor Madame Dudevant. we doubt not that thou hast suffered much, and that thou hast faith­fully unfolded to us much of thy own painful experi­ence, for which we are duly grateful. We can easily believe all the sentimental tortures, thou so eloquently and pathetically settest forth as endured by thy sex, are really endured by them. But after all, my dear Madame, a few hours each day of employment in the labors performed by thy cook or chamber-maid, with a simpler diet, would improve thy digestion, and save thee from the greater part of them. Ma chcre amie, have you ever reflected how much the digestion has to do with these sentimental tortures ? The lady, who should be compelled to live on six pence a day, and to earn it by bodily labor, would keep clear of them all. It is idle­ness, luxury, refinement, that produce them ; and the best way to cure them would not be to sue out a di­vorce from thy husband, but to dismiss thy servants, and do thyself the labor of thy own house-keeping. Nay, do not frown, and turn away in disgust. Thou hast no conception how it will improve the temper and manners of this brute of a husband, to sit down to a dinner of thy own cooking. Penelope kept off the suitors, and herself faithful to her lord, by keeping her­self constantly at the loom.

Seriously, we think it is time that some one venture to contradict this nonsense becoming so fashionable, about the hard fate of woman, representing her as the slave of man's passions, and the victim of his tyranny,  a poor, frail, sensitive being, that finds earth to her nothing but a vale of tears, and domestic life, for which she is so well fitted, but a sort of hell in miniature. We do not believe a word of all this. Here and there a husband may be found, no doubt, who is disposed to tyrannize, and who does abuse his wife ; but as a gen­eral rule, man has no such disposition. Wives, no doubt, suffer in many instances from the temper of their hus­bands, but husbands sometimes suffer from their wives; but they have the self-respect, for the most part, to suf­fer in silence. We see no reason for thinking that the lot of woman is one of peculiar hardship. The prin­cipal evil, to which she seems to us exposed, is idleness, brought about in consequence of the changes which have been effected in the forms of our industry.

Moreover, we believe, that much of this which is said about woman's exquisite sensibility is sheer non­sense. The great relief from the ills of life is employ­ment, in a word, work. Man was made to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, and when he does not, he suffers. The changes which have been introduced into society, imposing less active duties than formerly on the women of the easy classes, have given to these women ample time and opportunity to experience the senti­mental sufferings, which necessarily spring from com­parative idleness and luxury. There is, no doubt, then, much real suffering in these classes. But we have yet to be convinced, that woman is so organized as to be susceptible of acuter sufferings than man. For our 
part, we believe the reverse, if there be any difference, is the fact. Man is more angular, has more elbows to be struck, and a more irritable temperament. Women sub­mit to pain more readily than men, not, we apprehend, because they have more power of endurance, but be-eause they actually suffer less than men in similar cir­cumstances. If we pass from physical to mental suf­ferings, we believe it is the same. Man can love as deeply, as truly, and as tenderly as woman, and he feels, we apprehend, not less acutely than woman the pang of unrequited or disappointed affection. He, how­ever, bears up against it, because it is not manly to give way to it. We fancy the husband, who has been dis­appointed in his wife, who finds that between him and her there is nothing of that compatibility of temper, oneness of feeling, and ready sympathy, he had antici­pated, suffers no less than the wife, on making the same discovery. And then for remedy,  the wife lias as many resources as the husband ; for she may employ herself as well as he ; and when she becomes a mother, she finds, in the pleasures of maternal affection, ample amends for the want of the conjugal. In the love of her children, she has even a resource which the husband has not, or at least only to a feeble extent. He, it may be said, can take an active part in politics, in the Church, in the world, in chasing ambition or wealth, and thus find wherewithal to fill up the vacuum in his heart. So may the wife take an active part in house­keeping, in superintending her domestic arrangements, in educating her children, and solacing the afflicted. There is as. ample room for her activity, as for his.

Nor can we go along with our sentimental reform­ers, in looking to divorce as a remedy for the evils they find in married life. Married life unquestionably is not that perfect paradise, which the brilliant fancies of the young couple, who for the first time tell to each other their mutual love, have painted it; and most wise­ly ordered is it, that it should not be. The life of man in this world is destined to be one of toil and struggle. Man is bom to work. If marriage, then, realized, that Claude Lorrain dream of youth, if it brought us, with­out interruption, that exquisite delight and perfect sat­isfaction, which the inexperienced expect from it, we should find it impossible to make the necessary efforts to sustain life, to perform our part in the world ; and marriage would be only a sort of euthanasia. A little uneasiness, some little want, is necessary, to compel each to work ; for love, when perfect, though very de­sirable and very pleasant, is after all a little too ab­sorbing. We do not think it, then, an evil, that married life is not a life of perfect bliss.

But even were it so, divorce would be the worst possible remedy, save in very rare cases. The truth is, we have more power to control and regulate our feel­ings, than modern philosophy admits. Idleness and indulgence are the principal causes of our inability to control our sentiments. Constant employment, and constant effort at self-mastery will work miracles for us. The parties, who find themselves not so well matched as they expected to be, then, may get over the difficulty, if they will make the effort. They can conform one to the other, and come to harmonize tolerably well. It is a bad doctrine in morals, this, that our feelings are alto­gether beyond our control. We can, if we will do our best, bring our feelings to u;o hand in hand with what we believe to be our duty.

Then again, we protest against the lawfulness of divorce. Marriage by its own nature is absolutely in­dissoluble. When a couple enter into the marriage re­lation, they do it for life ; they understand it, and they mean it for life. If they entered it with any reservation, with an understanding that it was to continue only for a period, only so long as it should be mutually agree­able to themselves, they would not look upon it as marriage ; it would want, in their eyes, the character of sanctity, and would be not at all distinguishable from a mere transient commerce of passion and caprice. Divorce, then, can never be claimed by the parties them­selves, as a matter of justice, can never be granted, merely on the ground of the mutual consent of the parties concerned ; and can be tolerated only in those rare cases, which justify the exercise of mercy on the part of the lawgiver ; when the lawgiver may arrest the ordinary course of the law, through compassion to one of the parties, grossly wronged or offended by the other, or to prevent a greater moral and social evil. It can be prop­erly granted only by the special act of the lawmaking power. Consequently, it will be wholly impossible to grant that freedom of divorce, contended for by reform­ers oil this subject, without abandoning the marriage institution altogether. But even if divorce were lawful, and marriage were dissoluble at the will of one party, or of both parties, it would bring woman very little relief. The passions or the sentiments, which would crave a divorce, would rarely be able to find the satis­faction demanded. The cause of the suffering com­plained of is not. after all, so much the result of the in­compatibility of the parties, as we sometimes suppose. It is inherent in one or both of the parties, and would be not less active, as a general rule, in any new rela­tions one or the other might form.

So far as it concerns certain property relations, we think our laws might, and should be modified in favor of woman. In a commonwealth like ours, where so much attention is paid to female cultivation, where there is a constantly increasing excess of females, and conse­quently where a large number must inevitably remain single through life, women's facilities for acquiring, hold­ing, transferring, or disposing of property, should approach as near as possible to those of the other sex. But be­yond these, we see no special occasion to clamor for woman's rights, or any more ground to complain of man's wrongs to woman, than of woman's wrongs to man. Man is by no means generally disposed to ty­rannize over woman ; and we do not believe that the instances, in which husbands love their wives, are so rare as is sometimes imagined. Man is more frequently woman's slave, than she is his. The cords with which she binds him may be finer, and apparently weaker than those with which he binds her; but they are not the less effectual. Through his susceptibility, through those very qualities in him, which it is contended by some that she alone possesses, she is able to do with him. very much as she pleases ; and we have yet to learn, that she never exercises her power, save with modera­tion. Man, to say the least, is as weak before her, as she is before him; and if she does not enjoy her rights as fully as he does his, the fault is no more his than hers. As for this political equality, which some are claim­ing for woman, we have less and less sympathy with it every day. We formerly contended for it, and have preached and written in its defence. But we do not think woman would gain anything by its admission, at least, so long as we retain our present political or­ganization. The peculiar temperament and genius of woman does not fit her to excel as a legislator, or as a judge. The only branch of government, in which she would acquit herself tolerably, would be the executive. She is a good administrator, and a keen judge of char­acter, which would enable her to select faithful and competent agents. Nevertheless, were she to enter freely with us the political arena, she would soon com­pel us to forget her sex, and to treat her as a second or third rate man. We hope the time will never come when, in our intercourse with her, the difference of sex can be forgotten on either side. We have never yet known any good to come from attempts to obliterate the great landmarks of nature. We must therefore con­clude with saying, that, upon the whole, we have no sympathy with the clamor about woman's rights ; no belief in the alleged fact, that she is universally the victim of that horrid brute, man ; or that she has any peculiar wrongs to be redressed. Life, no doubt, has its evils ; men and women both suffer,  the married and the unmarried, the divorced, and the undivorced, and suffer often, and long, and deeply ; but the remedy is not in pitting one sex against the other, but in labor­ing together with such mutual love and confidence as there may be, to remove those evils which are remov­able, and in aiding and encouraging each other to bear with firmness, and without a murmur, what must be borne. The cure for these vague, sentimental sorrows, these pangs of disappointed or unrequited affections, and the horror of being wedded, a frail, delicate thing, all life, all love, all sensibility, to a coarse, unsympa-thizing husband, will not be found in reading senti­mental novels, nor in indignant; though eloquent protests against all institutions, domestic or social; but in a firm resolve to do one's duty, in active employment in some useful calling, and in unremitted efforts to lighten the burdens, and solace the afflictions of our brethren. No small portion of our misery springs from our love of it, and fear of losing it. We hug it to our bosoms, we cherish it, lavish on it the fondest caresses, and cannot be persuaded to let it go. If at any moment it seems to be escaping us, we are alarmed, and like the Countess in one of Dumas' Plays, not a little grieved to find ourselves on the point of being  happy !

As society advances in wealth and artificial refine­ment, as the numbers of those who find themselves in easy circumstances increase, the more decided must be the tendency to these sentimental sufferings, and the more general this ill-at-ease of which we hear and ex­perience so much. Naturally, then, will it find more and more expression in our literature. This is unques­tionably an evil, and an evil which has been greatly exaggerated of late, by the large accessions which have been made to the number of female writers. Women are at this moment gaining almost a monopoly of our literature; they have suddenly stepped forth from the retired apartments of domestic life, to lay open before us their feelings, fancies, and caprices. The result is the inundation of the land with a flood of sentimen­tality.

But after all, this evil is of short duration, and one which will cure itself. Woman wants what may be termed productive genius ; but she excels as a critic. She has a finer, and in most matters a more correct taste than man. Her powers of execution are not equal to her judgment. Her own productions will never satisfy herself. Nor will she he satisfied with productions by the other sex possessing characteristics similar to those of her own. Woman is herself always more or less sentimental, and sentimentalism will al­ways characterize her productions ; but she detests mere sentimentalism in man. He, who would commend himself to woman, must indeed possess deep and genuine feeling, real tenderness and delicacy of senti­ment, but he must not sigh and shed tears ; he must not whimper; he must be robust, bold, vigorous, ener­getic, in one word, manly. Those dapper little gentle­men, who talk sentiment, or write verses in albums, and who are really fit only to stand behind the counter and sell tape by the half or quarter yard, are never the men, who can gain the approbation or the affections of a genuine woman. She demands always the genuine man. No matter if his arm is brawney, his frame somewhat huge, and his manners unrefined, if there be at bottom a true man with a bold spirit, a brave heart, and an heroic soul.

Now these qualities, which woman demands in man, she requires him always to express in his literature ; and it will ere long be discovered, that as soon as the nov­elty of being herself an author passes off", she will tol­erate no literature that is not strong and manly, giving expression to bold and energetic feelings, to brave thoughts, and high aspirings. The sickliness of her own productions she will not tolerate for a moment, in those of the other sex. The growing literary influence of woman, which now swells the ilood of sentimental­ity, will ultimately tend to make our literature more robust and healthy. And as men must study to be as unlike women as possible, in their characters, in order to please them, their natural desire to please them will make them, as authors, study to be strong, healthy, and unsentimental. In this way literature will recover its tone, and in turn contribute to the health of so­ciety.

But we have rambled so far from our subject, that it is now too late to return to it. George Sand, upon the whole, though a woman, is to us the most pleasing and the most inspiring of the modern authors of popu­lar French literature. She has great purity of feeling, great depth and delicacy of sentiment, and rare beauty and strength of expression. If she exposes vice, or the defects of existing domestic or social arrangements, it is never in mere wantonness. You feel always that you are reading the utterances of an earnest spirit, always and everywhere aspiring to something better. You feel the unrest in which she is, and from which she tries to escape, and you honor her as a brave and strug­gling spirit, who would be better, do better, and make the world better, all men and women happier and lovelier, if she could. But you feel all the while, that she is out of health, that the tone of her feelings is diseased; and you are unable to rise from the perusal of one of her works, cheered and invigorated for the combat of life. O sing us, my dear lady, a livelier strain; do not oppress us ever with that monotonous wail of the soul, seeking in vain to solve the problem of its awn destiny. Enough of those melancholy notes. Sing us a song of gladness ; if you cannot, sing us a bold war song, and send us forth ready to do valiant battle against the enemies of our peace and virtue.

Spiridion, the work named at the head of this article, is properly a religious work, written with the same purpose that we had in writing Charles El-wood, or the Infidel Converted. It details the experi­ence of an ingenuous mind, in its progress through the several stages of doubt, unbelief, to absolute infidelity, and from that depth of horror and desolation, up to something like faith in God and immortality. The conclusion to which she arrives, the solution she offers of the enigma of existence, is worthy of study, as mark­ing the tendency of religious speculation among the popular writers in France, and more especially as show­ing the growing influence of the doctrines of I'Ecole de Saint-Sirnonienne. We intended to notice this solution at length ; but we have left ourselves no room. We, however, recommend the book to all who are capable of appreciating fine writing, of sympathizing with free thought, and liberal feeling. We consider it a very remarkable book, a book not without a deep sig­nificance. It is worthy of a place in Mr. Ripley's series of Specimens of Foreign Standard Literature. We have never read a book on religious subjects, that con­tained so many passages, which seemed to be perfect transcripts from our own experience.