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nection, whether some of our accusers may not have confounded
depth with obscurity; or whether, again, our great writers may
not have sometimes indulged in the courtier-like sprightliness of
men of the world when they wished to express profound truths
in lucid language. Thus, few of our writers have examined the
problem of the relativity of knowledge, or the identity of contra-
dictories, because few writers have attached any interest to it
outside the schools. However it may be with the categories of
the understanding or the modes of thought, we in France have
decided that social life has little or nothing to do with the prob-
lem of the temporification of space or the spatialization of time.
We have likewise come to the conclusion that, as the questions
of religious toleration or popular sovereignty have only a very
remote connection with that of knowing “how the Ego and the
Non-Ego, posited in the Ego by the Ego, limit one another re.
ciprocally,” a true philosopher might do well to examine the
latter question en passant, but should by no means become so
deeply absorbed in it as to forget the first two. Further, it
seems to us that if, before dealing with practical questions, we
have to wait for the elucidation of the deeper problems, which
definition cannot solve, and which turn upon the unknowable, we
may have to wait a long time:-

« Vivendi qui recte prorogat horam,
Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis : at ille
Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis ævum.

Let us, therefore, organize social life, to begin with. We may
then, if there is time, inquire into its metaphysical basis. Is not
this the visible and actual order of phenomena ? The German
metaphysics of the nineteenth century were only made possible
by the French literature of the eighteenth. French literature, in
fact, has only lacked depth through a superabundance, as it were,
of practical spirit. Kant is not more profound than Pascal, nor
Fichte than Rousseau. The sole distinction lies in the fact that
Fichte and Kant chose to treat a whole series of ideas, which Pas-
cal and Rousseau thought better to leave untouched. The latter
expended as much effort in the cause of intelligibility as the ohter
two in coating or rather arming themselves with bristling formulæ,
with the result of making themselves obscure. And all this, it
may be seen, brings us back continually to the idea of sociability
as the essential characteristic of French literature. ...

By comparison with French literature, thus defined and char. acterized, the English is an individualist literature. With the exception of three or four generations in its long history, that of Congreve and Wycherley, for instance, or that of Pope and Addi. son,– to whom it should not be forgotten must also be added the name of Swift, - you will find that the English only write in order to experience the exterior sensation of their individuality. Hence that “humor,” which may be defined as the expression of the pleasure they feel in giving vent to their peculiar thoughts, often in a manner unexpected by themselves. Hence, too, the abundance, diversity, and richness of their lyric vein, since individualism is its real source, and an ode or elegy is the involuntary afflux, as it were, and overflow of the innermost feelings in the poet's soul. Hence, again, the eccentricity of the majority of their great writers with respect to the rest of their compatriots, as if, in truth, they only became conscious of themselves by tak. ing up the opposite ground to those who believed they resembled them most. Hence, in a word, the nature of their imagination and their sensibility. As if a man's capacity of representing himself and his feelings to another man - as if fantasy truly so called, which is the most variable of faculties, constituted the element of most permanent value! ... But cannot English literature be otherwise characterized ? As you may imagine, I do not venture to answer in the affirmative; and all I say is, that I cannot better characterize in one word that which differentiates English from French literature.

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WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.

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