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How oft thy lofty summits won
With rustling motion;
In hush'd devotion
"Twere vain to ask; for doom'd to fall,
O’er thee impended :
Thy course was ended
But not thine use-for moral rules,
Thou inay'st bequeath me;
To those beneath me.
So when Death lays his axe to me,
My hold terrestrial;
To realms celestial.
MODERN PILGRIMAGES.*-NO, III.
The Pantheon. Of all the fabrics, northward of the Alps, intended for the service of religion, the most worthy of the name of Temple is perhaps the Pantheon-of old, and now once more the church of St. Genevieve. Afar off its grey dome is descried by the traveller, as he approaches the capital of France, eminent in height and simple grandeur above all the spires of that ambitious city. After glancing at the gilt cupola of the Invalides, the gloomy mass of Notre Dame, the lofty roofs and chimneys of the Thuilleries, the eye and interest alike repose upon its majestic dome.
It was upon the third of January, 1822, that the pilgrim wended his way to this shrine of the Revolution, and the resting place of Rousseau and Voltaire. An unusual bustle seemed to pervade the town, especially every avenue to the building; it was the day appointed for its reconsecration to the services of religion. Carriages, and priests, and processions, choked up every passage, while the crowd looked on
• In the article Modern Pilgrimages, No. II. we were not aware that Mr. Moore had actually alluded to his having been indebted to Shenstone's Elegy in the verses quoted from him. Our idea was, that Mr. Moore had unconsciously hit on the same thought as Shenstone ; and it was by no means either expressed or insinuatu that he was a plagiarist.-We say this to satisfy our correspondent H. B. Vol. III. No. 15.-1822.
sullen, incurious, and malign. The morning was wet and gloomy, just such another as that on which the remains of Voltaire were transported to their present abode: and what with the rain, the people, and the carriages, it was an undertaking of no small difficulty to scramble up from the Place St. Michael to the Place of the Pantheon. Thinking less of the grandeur of the building than of the change it was about to undergo, I looked to see what had become of the revolutionary inscription over the portico, legible enough some weeks before-of Aux grands hommes la patrie reconnoissante; and also, though more defaced, that of Unité, Indivisibilité de la République, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, ou La Mort. A canvass was at present spread over the plinth ; behind which, I was informed, workmen were daily employed, substituting for the Republican mottos, the more devout inscription of D. O. M. sub invocatione sanctæ Genovefæ sacrum.
I had visited the interior of the building two or three months previously, when there was no sign of preparation for the intended ceremony; and must confess, that all that was pilgrim in me blushed for the present contrast. There were unpleasant feelings in both contemplations; in the first, the silence of the house of prayer recalled all the indignities and massacres that the church had suffered, the vain attempts of the revolutionists to supply the place of religion by theatric ceremony and fictitious heroism, with the fate of those wretched mortals:
“Who play'd such antic tricks before high Heaven.” They had overturned the altars, and chased away the ministers of religion ; but its spirit, methought, had not departed. The silent solemnity of the space, so beautifully bounded by pillar, arch, and dome, and unbroken through so many years, seemed the worship that Time paid to the Almighty.
The ceremony of the consecration, for all its imposing appearance, did not excite in me any such elevated ideas. The rich altar and its gigantic tapers, its gew-gaw ornaments and flimsy canopy, did not strike the eye of a Protestant, and perhaps a somewhat bigoted pilgrim, with much veneration. The beautiful tapestry of the Gobelins seemed as much misplaced; and on the Mosaic circle, in the midst of the building, was a table covered with artificial flowers and relics in glass cases, not at all calculated to please either my taste or my devotion. The King of France was not present, and I was sorry for it.-I love the man and the monarch, who is so ill appreciated by the idle gossips of my own country: The Duchesse d'Angoulême, who seemed to enjoy the scene, looked too proud to inspire interest, and is withal not handsome enough that she should dispense with gentleness. Her voice too, which is absolutely wolfish, together with her laughty carriage, leads every one to ask-“Can this be the daughter of the gentle Louis Seize?"
In the midst of the solemnity I could not helpindulging in the comi. cal and obvious thought of the philosophers who lay in the vaults, awaking, each like another Epimenides, from his forty years sleepeach deeming it impossible that he could have enjoyed the privilege of Christian burial, and unable to account for the chant of innumerable voices over their graves.* Their next astonishment would naturally be to see themselves side by side, who were such sworn enemies in life; the mutual recognition in such a case recalls the idea in Byron's “Darkness," where, after the calcination of the globe, the two only survivors approach an ember from opposite sides, and both setting themselves to blow it into a flame, discover, each the other, to be the very object of bis deadliest hatred. But death, thought I, must be a great allayer of feuds,--so I continued my fancies, supposing Voltaire and Jean-Jacques to shake hands, and set out in quest of the light, and of the strange turmoil above them. Their sarcophagi seemed previously to excite their attention: as soon as Voltaire perceived they were of wood, he esclaimed, “ Brother, this cannot be France, the land of liberality and magnificence and see, what a heap of illegible inscriptions have been placed round about me, almost as interminable as my own scribbling. You,” continued he to Rousseau, and viewing his tomb,“ have been more lucky, Here rests the man of nature and of truth; though late, I still rejoice in assenting to your praise. But come, bone or spirit, whichever we be, and yet I know not,” said the philosopher, with a sneer, “ these vaults are cold, let us seek our way to the assembly of noisy mortals above.” They seemed to grope along the passages, Voltaire going first, and peeping into every cranny as he proceeded. The inscriptions on the tombs perplexed him; wherever he pried, his eye met no inscription familiar to his old habits. Sénateur ImpérialMembre de la Légion d'Honneur, were enigmas to them, who, unlike Epimenides, were aware that they had been in their
full forty years, but were uninformed of the great mass of public events, which had “ curdled” a long age of changes into so short a space. A superb mausoleum for a moment attracted their attention-it bore Lannes, Duc de Montebello, mort au champ d'honneur à Essling.
They have been fighting, and creating Dukes, that's for certain,” said Voltaire. Methought I perceived him at this moment to mount the steps ascending from the vault into the church, which steps the bones of a being very different from either of them had ascended a little time beforeof no less a person than St. Genevieve herself. The philosophers, however, entered the church, and commenced interrogating and conversing with some of the congregation. Whether the people around took them for madmen, or liberals, I cannot say; but in a little time, one of the gens d'armes led them both out. Dynasties and religions change,” exclaimed Rousseau, “but the Bastille and its agents ever remain the same."
All this is not very decorous, my readers will say, in a pilgrim, and at the consecration of a church. True, my worthy friends, and selfreproach at the time uttered the same words. But psalms are soporific, especially in the dead languages, and though not altogether a profane,
Voltaire was disinterred at Selliers, Rousseau from the Isle of Poplars at Ermenonville. There were several reports circulated at the time of the consecration of St. Genevieve, that the remains of the philosophers had been transported secretly to Père La Chaise. It appears that they were only removed from their conspicuous stations in the vault to one of its darkest corners, and the statue of Voltaire, that stood near his sarcophagus, is said also to have been displaced. M. de Girardin has claimed from the King the body of Rousseau, that he may reinter it in his Poplar Isle. The unfortunate philosopher seerfis doomed to be us restless, and as much fretted in death, as during life.
I am still a poetic pilgrim, and cannot tread the marble aisles of St. Genevieve, without thinking that the authors of Merope and Héloise lie buried beneath me.
And yet their names have been breathed from too many mouths to excite much enthusiasm from mine. Their measure of fame seems full, even to overflowing; and, to be plain, it suits not my vanity to utter supernumerary panegyric. Popularity during life is, after all, a passing, as well as a vulgar reward; be it ever so merited, posterity seems more inclined to reverse than to establish the decree. We consider ourselves always the fit judges of the penultimate works of genius, and do not love to be anticipated. We are indignant with the past age of critics and admirers, who dared to usurp our rights, and attempt to confer prematurely the meed of immortality on their contemporaries. We feel that the living had no claim or title to praise each other face to face, and that these points should have been left to us to settle. The reasons may be fantastic, but the existence of the feeling is indisputable. Rousseau and Voltaire-do I not in a degree, and in spite of all my veneration, feel ashamed to repeat those hackneyed names, and to confound my taste with that of every breechless man and beardless boy, who have learned to cry bravo in honour of those sounds ?
Genius must undergo a purgatory of neglect, and must pay its visit, like Dante, to the infernal regions of oblivion, ere it can reach the paradise of lasting fame. Its orbit is one of eccentricity, and like the comet, burn it ever so bright, it must disappear and be forgotten for a while. We are jealous of fame that has suffered no interruption-it offends our vision, and we must bury, if we would not hate it. Thus it is with Pope and his school :-some critics cry out against the neglect, the inhumation they are undergoing. Let these indignant sons of taste be tranquil,--all things fulfil their destiny. Let the names of genius, so long and so much tainted by admirers and imitators, sink gently for an interval into silence, till their homeliness and satiety wear off, and their gloss return afresh. Let us be contented with the protest generously uttered; this will suffice to lay the grass green over its momentary grave, anon it shall arise like a giant refreshed with slumber, and the succeeding age will behold but its beauty and sublimity, purified from the taints of a too vulgar and familiar admiration.
Now, luckily for us, we can afford to do this; we have a change of scenes and a new relay of actors to bring before us—and proper men they are, good ranters some and classic figures others, as any our country has ever enjoyed. But France, owing to whatever causes, has no such literary relay; and even if the genius, which it is naturally to be supposed she must possess, bad been called forth, it would have terrible obstacles to overcome. The critics of that land are a cold, servile brood, adorers of sameness and things old, and dreading hugely any innovation that would distance thein into their real insignificance. This body must be utterly overthrown ere any thing farther can be effected in the march of genius; and to overthrow them will be extremely difficult, backed as they are by the popular prejudice, that any attempt at originality would be to imitate the English ;-true Frenchmen, they stand in awe of this most nonsensical of all parodoxes, viz. the unoriginality of originality itself. Our countrymen, on the contrary, are an independent race, and have at least two fashions in the year-bear witness, Bond-street and the Blues. And this is as it should be: -novelty is an innate craving and law of our nature, and certain-cut poets must go out of fashion for a while as well as certain-cut coats,in a little time all will come round as before. 'Tis not perpetual banishment, but merely a momentary exile, highly advantageous to these dead wits, if they knew but all, and very amusing to them doubtless, should they have liberty or leisure to contemplate the revolutions of this nether world.
France, however, must be sparing of contempt towards her own old writers; she must be cautious in indulging caprice of this kind, inasmuch as she cannot afford to dispense with any class of her genius : the attempts that have been made by her to strike out of the beaten path, were endeavoured by men of feeble talents, and were easily and instantly put down. This confining the ranks of genius and narrowing its limits may increase the sum of enthusiasm towards individual authors, but it at the same time renders that enthusiasm stale and common-place. The critic has nothing new to say, the pilgrim nothing new to feel, and the literature of the country proceeds on its path, like the cars upon our metal roads, smoothly succeeding each other with harmonious rumbling, linked and unique, without rut or interruption, the heavy descending assisting the light to mount, and the whole apparatus for the most part employed in conveying cargoes of lumber into the deep.
We have heard of brave men being political cowards, and vice versâ ; the same observation may be applied to philosophy and taste: those who were bold and powerful enough to set aside the trammels even of religion, offered their hands, like helots, to be bound by rules of taste. That Rousseau never attacked the host of critics is surprising, but perhaps he had learned from his early tilt against French music that the nation would suffer itself more easily to be shaken out of its religious and moral principles than out of those literary prejudices, which were wound around its amour-propre. We need not be in the least surprised at Voltaire's obsequiousness, whose campaigns of argument resembled those of his military friends in war, where he never ventured a movement without being assured of a back. He seized the floating scepticism of the fashionable society in which he first moved, and borrowed far more than he invented of it. In arguing, in illustrating a case, or dressing it up with all the accompaniments of shrewdness and ridicule, no one was his equal; but the principle on which he set out, was generally taken from the first mouth or the next page. His was not the spirit that sinks into its own depths, and tries the soundings of the abyss; it was rather that which catches its own overflowings, and plays over the aperture and in the fume of thought, rather than searches or dives in its own
•Whirling gulf of fantasy and Aame.” The name of Voltaire is reverenced in France, that of Rousseau is loved. Vanity cherishes the one, but the other is adored as the presiding genius of passionate thought. The state of feeling in France at this moment is indeed a curious contemplation. The impulse, given by Napoleon, was exactly suited to one half of the national character the enthusiasm for glory, for active and manly exertion, &c. &c. The