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live by their weight, their quality, their beauty of form. Nor are these earlier writers of 'Pensées' likely to have a more permanent place among the seed-sowers of thought. Amiel himself declared that "the pensée-writer is to the philosopher what the dilettante is to the artist. He plays with thought, and makes it produce a crowd of pretty things of detail; but he is more anxious about truths than truth, and what is essential in thought, its sequence, its unity, escapes him. In a word, the pensée-writer deals with what is superficial and fragmentary." While these words show the fine critical sense of the man, they do an injustice to his own work. Fragmentary it is, but neither superficial nor petty. One recognizes in reading his wonderfully suggestive pages that here is a rare personality, indeed,- albeit "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought." In 1889 an admirable English translation of Amiel by Mrs. Humphry Ward, the novelist, appeared in London. The introductory essay by Mrs. Ward is the best study of him in our language. The appended selections are taken from the Ward translation.
EXTRACTS FROM AMIEL'S JOURNAL
CTOBER IST, 1849.- Yesterday, Sunday, I read through and made extracts from the Gospel of St. John. It confirmed me in my belief that about Jesus we must believe no one but Himself, and that what we have to do is to discover the true image of the Founder behind all the prismatic refractions through which it comes to us, and which alter it more or less. A ray of heavenly light traversing human life, the message of Christ has been broken into a thousand rainbow colors, and carried in a thousand directions. It is the historical task of Christianity to assume with every succeeding age a fresh metamorphosis, and to be forever spiritualizing more and more her understanding of the Christ and of salvation.
I am astounded at the incredible amount of Judaism and formalism which still exists nineteen centuries after the Redeemer's proclamation, "It is the letter which killeth "-after his protest against a dead symbolism. The new religion is so profound that it is not understood even now, and would seem a blasphemy to the greater number of Christians. The person of Christ is the
centre of it. Redemption, eternal life, divinity, humanity, propitiation, incarnation, judgment, Satan, heaven and hell,—all these beliefs have been so materialized and coarsened that with a strange irony they present to us the spectacle of things having a profound meaning and yet carnally interpreted. Christian boldness and Christian liberty must be reconquered; it is the Church which is heretical, the Church whose sight is troubled and her heart timid. Whether we will or no, there is an esoteric doctrine- there is a relative revelation; each man enters into God so much as God enters into him; or, as Angelus, I think, said, “The eye by which I see God is the same eye by which He sees me." Duty has the virtue of making us feel the reality of a positive world while at the same time detaching us from it.
EBRUARY 20TH, 1851.-I have almost finished these two volumes of [Joubert's] 'Pensées' and the greater part of the 'Correspondance.' This last has especially charmed me; it is remarkable for grace, delicacy, atticism, and precision. The chapters on metaphysics and philosophy are the most insignificant. All that has to do with large views, with the whole of things, is very little at Joubert's command: he has no philosophy of history, no speculative intuition. He is the thinker of detail, and his proper field is psychology and matters of taste. In this sphere of the subtleties and delicacies of imagination and feeling, within the circle of personal affections and preoccupations, of social and educational interests, he abounds in ingenuity and sagacity, in fine criticisms, in exquisite touches. It is like a bee going from flower to flower, a teasing, plundering, a teasing, plundering, wayward zephyr, an æolian harp, a ray of furtive light stealing through the leaves. Taken as a whole, there is something impalpable and immaterial about him, which I will not venture to call effeminate, but which is scarcely manly. He wants bone and body: timid, dreamy, and clairvoyant, he hovers far above reality. He is rather a soul, a breath, than a man. It is the mind of a woman in the character of a child, so that we feel for him less admiration than tenderness and gratitude.
OVEMBER 10TH, 1852.- How much have we not to learn from the Greeks, those immortal ancestors of ours! And how much better they solved their problem than we have solved ours! Their ideal man is not ours; but they understood infinitely
better than we, how to reverence, cultivate, and ennoble the man whom they knew. In a thousand respects we are still barbarians beside them, as Béranger said to me with a sigh in 1843: barbarians in education, in eloquence, in public life, in poetry, in matters of art, etc. We must have millions of men in order to produce a few elect spirits: a thousand was enough in Greece. If the measure of a civilization is to be the number of perfected men that it produces, we are still far from this model people. The slaves are no longer below us, but they are among us. Barbarism is no longer at our frontiers: it lives side by side with us. We carry within us much greater things than they, but we ourselves are smaller. It is a strange result. It is a strange result. Objective civilization produced great men while making no conscious effort toward such a result; subjective civilization produces a miserable and imperfect race, contrary to its mission and its earnest desire. The world grows more majestic, but man diminishes. Why is this?
We have too much barbarian blood in our veins, and we lack measure, harmony, and grace. Christianity, in breaking man up into outer and inner, the world into earth and heaven, hell and paradise, has decomposed the human unity, in order, it is true, to reconstruct it more profoundly and more truly. But Christianity has not yet digested this powerful leaven. She has not yet conquered the true humanity; she is still living under the antinomy of sin and grace, of here below and there above. She has not penetrated into the whole heart of Jesus. She is still in the narthex of penitence; she is not reconciled, and even the churches still wear the livery of service, and have none of the joy of the daughters of God, baptized of the Holy Spirit.
Then, again, there is our excessive division of labor; our bad and foolish education which does not develop the whole man; and the problem of poverty. We have abolished slavery, but without having solved the question of labor. In law, there are no more slaves-in fact, there are many. And while the majority of men are not free, the free man, in the true sense of the term, can neither be conceived nor realized. Here are enough causes for our inferiority.
OVEMBER 12TH, 1852. St. Martin's summer is still lingering, and the days all begin in mist. I ran for a quarter of an hour round the garden to get some warmth and suppleness. Nothing could be lovelier than the last rosebuds, or the delicate
gaufred edges of the strawberry leaves embroidered with hoarfrost, while above them Arachne's delicate webs hung swaying in the green branches of the pines, little ball-rooms for the fairies, carpeted with powdered pearls, and kept in place by a thousand dewy strands, hanging from above like the chains of a lamp, and supporting them from below like the anchors of a vessel. These little airy edifices had all the fantastic lightness of the elf-world, and all the vaporous freshness of dawn. They recalled to me the poetry of the North, wafting to me a breath from Caledonia or Iceland or Sweden, Frithjof and the Edda, Ossian and the Hebrides. All that world of cold and mist, of genius and of reverie, where warmth comes not from the sun but from the heart, where man is more noticeable than nature, — that chaste and vigorous world, in which will plays a greater part than sensation, and thought has more power than instinct,-in short, the whole romantic cycle of German and Northern poetry, awoke little by little in my memory and laid claim upon my sympathy. It is a poetry of bracing quality, and acts upon one like a moral tonic. Strange charm of imagination! A twig of pine-wood and a few spiderwebs are enough to make countries, epochs, and nations live again before her.
ANUARY 6TH, 1853. Self-government with tenderness, - here you have the condition of all authority over children. The child must discover in us no passion, no weakness of which he can make use; he must feel himself powerless to deceive or to trouble us; then he will recognize in us his natural superiors, and he will attach a special value to our kindness, because he will respect it. The child who can rouse in us anger, or impatience, or excitement, feels himself stronger than we, and a child respects strength only. The mother should consider herself as her child's sun, a changeless and ever radiant world, whither the small restless creature, quick at tears and laughter, light, fickle, passionate, full of storms, may come for fresh stores of light, warmth, and electricity, of calm and of courage. The mother represents goodness, providence, law; that is to say, the divinity, under that form of it which is accessible to childhood. If she is herself passionate, she will inculcate in her child a capricious and despotic God, or even several discordant gods. The religion of a child depends on what its mother and its father are, and not on what they say. The inner and unconscious ideal which guides their life is
precisely what touches the child; their words, their remonstrances, their punishments, their bursts of feeling even, are for him merely thunder and comedy; what they worship- this it is which his instinct divines and reflects.
The child sees what we are, behind what we wish to be. Hence his reputation as a physiognomist. He extends his power as far as he can with each of us; he is the most subtle of diplomatists. Unconsciously he passes under the influence of each person about him, and reflects it while transforming it after his his own nature. He is a magnifying mirror. This is why the first principle of education is, Train yourself; and the first rule to follow, if you wish to possess yourself of a child's will, is, Master your own.
ECEMBER 17TH, 1856. — This evening was the second quartet concert. It stirred me much more than the first; the music chosen was loftier and stronger. It was the quartette in D minor of Mozart, and the quartette in C major of Beethoven, separated by a Spohr concerto.
The work of Mozart, penetrated as it is with mind and thought, represents a solved problem, a balance struck between aspiration and executive capacity, the sovereignty of a grace which is always mistress of itself, marvelous harmony and perfect unity. His quartette describes a day in one of those Attic souls. who prefigure on earth the serenity of Elysium.
In Beethoven's, on the other hand, a spirit of tragic irony paints for you the mad tumult of existence, as it dances forever above the threatening abyss of the infinite. No more unity, no more satisfaction, no more serenity! We are spectators of the eternal duel between the two great forces, that of the abyss which absorbs all finite things, and that of life which defends and asserts itself, expands, and enjoys.
The soul of Beethoven was a tormented soul. The passion and the awe of the infinite seemed to toss it to and fro from heaven to hell. Hence its vastness. Which is the greater, Mozart or Beethoven? Idle question! The one is more perfect, the other more colossal. The first gives you the peace of perfect art, beauty at first sight. The second gives you sublimity, terror, pity, a beauty of second impression. The one gives that for which the other rouses a desire. Mozart has the classic purity of light and the blue ocean. Beethoven the romantic grandeur which belongs