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effects which I shall presently attempt to trace in some matters which many would suppose they could hardly reach.
But I cannot conclude this chapter without observing, that even in France people do not seem sufficiently aware of the end to which the influence of intelligence, and the insignificance of fortune, must necessarily lead them. They do not seem sufficiently aware of the necessity of recognizing, and more fully establishing, that aristocracy — for aristocracy in every country there must be—that aristocracy which time and taste have already recognized - an aristocracy which would be powerful because it is national
– which would be safe, because it is peaceably created -- and which, when peaceably created, and historically established in a nation, is the most rational, because the best calculated to combine change with conservation, and moderation with improvement. Yet
may we see a new Chamber of Peers taken from the category of the Academy and the Institut;* yet may we see the concentration and the representation of the intelligence of the king
* The Institut, even at present, opens to the French a double ambition and a double career. It is there that the national character is represented, and that the national distinctions blend and meet. M. Thiers seeks
dom more fully acknowledged, as the proper mediator between the throne, which its political science would teach it to preserve, and the people, whom its natural affections would prevent it from betraying.
the title of academician with an ardour at least equal to that which has carried him so far in the Chamber of Deputies. The Duc de Raguse was as proud of the title of 'Membre de l'Institut, as that of “Maréchal de France. In that society, the statesman is brought into honourable connection with the poet, the philosopher with the soldier. In that society, the passionate man, the literary man, the active man, the studious man, are blended together; a practical energy is given to speculation, a nobility to ambition. The warrior, the orator, ennoble their conceptions by science; the historian, the professor, correct their theories by experience—the one learns to act with dignity, the other to think with truth.
Literature-Society in a transitory state-Every epoch
in civilization bears its certain fruit-Afterwards, that society wears out, or must be invigorated by a new soil -A new stratum for society produced in France a new era-The genius of this era first visible in the Army, now in Literature—What I intend to do in speaking of French literature.
The three influences most popular in society, and most connected with the character and the history of France, are then-the influence of arms, the influence of women, and the influence of letters - and the Government that is wise will not endeavour to destroy, but will endeavour so to mould and employ, these influences, as to invigorate and embellish the institutions
to improve and to elevate the social existence-of the French. But there is another influence, an influence to which I have just been alluding-an influence of more modern growthtwining itself in with the history, incorporating itself with the character, of the nation an influence which, while other influences descend from the past, is now creating a future—an influence which, as I have just been speaking of the influence of literature, I will trace through the labours of literature itself.
“ We are not, as it seems to many, in the epoch of any peculiar revolution, but in an era of general transformation. All society is on the change. What period will see this movement cease ? God alone can say.”
" To what end is society directing itself ? Behind us, ruins ; before us, an impenetrable obscurity ; where we are, a terrible inquietude. Religions fall, other religions rise, or attempt to rise, the confusion of literary and political opinions is what it has rarely been before.”
These are two passages, the one from M. de Châteaubriand, the other from the preface of a youthful poet,* who seemed at one time likely to represent the character of his times. So. ciety indeed is, in France, as it is all over the world, in a state of transition; so is society always, we may say—for civilization either retrogrades or advances; it never stands still. So is society always; yet there are periods to which the epithet of “transitory” may be peculiarly applied ; for there are periods at which it is more evident than at others that a movement is taking place. No fixed taste predominates ; there is an incongruity in all things, a want of unity, a want of harmony; the sons have passed beyond the recognized rules of their sires, but they have not yet found any for themselves. They are on the search, they try, they abandon, they adopt, they forsake. Each has his own scheme, his own thought : looking at them separately, these schemes, these thoughts, are diverse ; viewing them together, they appear less unlike, for there is always a general tendency throughout them all, a general tendency to The New Age, in which there will be unity, in which there will be harmony, in which there will be an insensibility to the movement that must always be going on. For society has its resting places, at which it collects itself and takes breath ; at which it prepares for new efforts, engendering new ideas --ideas, which, until they triumph over those more antiquated, are unheeded ; and then-comes another epoch of doubt, uncertainty, and search. Thus is it for ever. *
* M. Barbier.