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literature of past and present times more especially, exceedingly unlike what are commonly manifested by writers of the German school. He found, no doubt, a grave obstacle to his schemes in the effect which had been produced on the literary taste of France in these latter days by the critical examples of England and his own country, Germany: in particular, it is easy to trace throughout all his writings the special spleen with which he regards the European success of the Messrs. Schlegel, and their disciple, Madame de Staël, in their efforts to counteract the principle of the French Revolution by re-awakening a taste for the religious and social characteristics of the Middle Ages; but his Prussian experience had not been altogether in vain—he must guard himself against stirring the hostility of his new French public by too open and direct an assault upon any of the more peculiar objects of its habitual respect. The reader will now understand Mr. Heine's Preface, which we give at length, both for the light which it throws on his designs, and as an amusing specimen of his style:
· When, after the lapse of many long years, the Emperor Otho III. resolved to inspect the mortal remains of Charlemagne, he entered the tomb along with two bishops and the Count Laumel, who has narrated the following details: “ The body was not found recumbent, after the usual fashion of the dead, but seated firmly on a chair, like a living person. He had the crown on his head, and held the sceptre in his hands, which were covered with gloves; but the nails had grown, and pierced through the leather of the gloves. The vault had been solidly walled up with marble, and to enter it an opening had to be broken through. At the moment when the party entered a very strong odour was perceptible. All bent the knee in testimony of their reverence for Charlemagne. Otho arrayed him in a new white robe, cut his nails, and commanded that whatever had given way about him should be repaired. No part of his members had disappeared, except the point of the nose, for which Otho substituted a new point of gold. He then took a tooth from the mouth of the illustrious corpse, ordered the vault to be built up as before, and departed. But the next night Charlemagne appeared to Otho in a dream, and announced to him that his life drew near its end, and that he should leave no heirs behind him.”
Such are the German traditions about the tomb of Charlemagne: but this is by no means the only instance of the sort. Francis I. of France, for example, caused the tomb of Roland to be opened, in order that he might judge for himself whether the old hero had been of the gigantic stature ascribed to him by the poets. This occurred but a little while before the battle of Pavia. Strange and horrible curiosity which so often pushes men to explore the tombs of the past! This happens at extraordinary periods--when an epoch is accomplished when a catastrophe is at hand!
We have witnessed such an event in our own days—indeed but yesterday. A great sovereign, the French People, was seized one fine
morning morning with the fancy of opening the tomb of the past, and consi. dering by day-light the ages that had long since died and been forgotten. There was no want of knowing ditchers who went to work with pick and spade to shovel aside the rubbish, and crack an aperture through the vault. The visitants were sensible of a strong odour-a high Gothic smell, which affected very agreeably noses that had been long blasés on the perfumes of a classical order. The French writers knelt respectfully before the unsepulchred Middle Age. One was ready with a new robe-another to pare the nails - a third with a fresh point for the nose of the defunct: then came some poets who extracted his teeth, after the venerable example of the Emperor Otho. Whether the spirit of the Middle Age appeared in dreams to these pluckers of teeth and repairers of noses--and predicted to them the speedy end of their romantic sovereignty-these are points on which I do not affect to be accurately informed. My chief object, in alluding to this incident in the history of French literature, is to have an opportunity of declaring on the threshold, that I have no design to confound it with one, at first sight similar, which has taken place in Germany. The German resurrectionists of the Middle Age had a practical object in view—they designed to work upon the mass of their nation in a way hostile to its liberty and happiness. The French writers, on the contrary, considered the affair as one interesting only to art—the French public thought of nothing but the satisfying of their curiosity. The most part entertained merely the hope of finding some costume which might have a good effect in the carnival. The Gothic mode was in France no more than a mode—and had no purpose but to enhance the pleasures of the present times. People let their hair float in the long curls of the dark centuries; but a single remark from the hair-dresser, as to the awkward effect of such a fashion, was enough to secure the instantaneous clipping off both of the redundant tresses and of the ideas attached to them. Alas! it was very different in Germany: the reason is, that the Middle Age there was not-is not entirely dead and decomposed, as in France. The German Middle Age does not lie mouldered in its tomb: it is often animated by a wicked phantom: it still appears among us in the full light of day, and sucks the reddest of our veins. Alas! do you not see how pale and sad is Germany—and with her that German youth once so joyously enthusiastic? Do you not see the blood on the mouth of the plenipotentiary vampire, whose head-quarters are at Frankfort, and who there drains, with such horrible and weary patience, the hearts of the German people ?
• What I say here of the Middle Age generally is said particularly with reference to the religion of that epoch. Fairness demands that I should distinguish in the clearest manner between the party called Catholic in France, and those miserable droles who bear the same name in Germany. The eighteenth century crushed Catholicism in France so effectually, that it retains hardly any symptom of life, and he who wishes to re-establish it there has the air of the preacher of a
wholly new religion. By France I mean Paris; for what the provinces may think is of no more importance than the opinions of a man's legs. The head is the seat of thought. I am told that the French provincials are good Catholics: I ean neither affirm this nor deny it. The men whom I have met in the provinces reminded me always of mile-stones
-which bear legible on their front the amount of their distance, be it less or more, from the capital." Perhaps the women of those parts find in Catholicism some consolation for their distress in being obliged to live out of Paris. At Paris, assuredly, Catholicism has been quite dead ever since the revolution, and, indeed, long before that time it had lost all health and vigour. It kept itself on the watch in the corners of the churches, coiled up like a spider, and jumped in a great hurry from its retreat whenever it perceived an opportunity of fastening on an infant in the cradle, or an old man in his shroud. It was only at the entrance and the exit of life that the Frenchman fell into the hands of the priest. Through all the space between he belonged to reason, and laughed at holy water. Was this the reign of Catholicism? It was exactly because of its utter extinction in France that, under Louis XVIII. and Charles X., it was able, by the force of novelty, to attract some few really disinterested minds. It was something so unheard of, so odd, so unexpected! The dominant religion in France, before that time, was the Classical Mythology, and that beautiful religion had been preached with such success to the French people, by their writers, their poets, and their artists of all sorts, that both the exterior and the intellectual life of France bore completely the Pagan costume. During the revolution the Classical Religion flourished in its most energetic magnificence. It was no apery—after the fashion of Alexandria. Paris appeared as the natural continuation of Athens and Rome.'- Preface, p. xii.
Throughout his book Mr. Heine adheres to the tone of this Preface. Everywhere he is found carefully drawing the same broad line of distinction between the romantic schools of German and of French belles-lettres, on the one hand-on the other, between the Catholicism of such writers as Frederick Schlegel, and that of the Chateaubriands and Lamartines. The distinction in the latter instance we take to be entirely visionary—that in the former appears to be better founded. We have no taste for the romanticism of the modern French school : it is, as he says, in most cases, a mere pretence and affectation—a superficial affaira masquerade-a farce-having no reference to anything serious or solid in the prevalent feelings or opinions of the French people : while, in other cases to which he makes no allusion, though these are the only ones in which it has ever been turned to any real or practical purpose, this same flinisy masquerade has served for the convenient cloak of a most malignant attack upon the very principles which the Germun Romanticists have all along wished to maintain. The French, when they have dug up the habitudes and costumes of their own past periods, with any other views than those of the property-man and the scene-painter, have obviously done so for the sake of assaulting, from a new and unexpected battery, the old religious faith, and the old political predilections of their nation; but of all this it best suited Heine's present plans to say nothing.
He assumes, indeed, that to suppose even for a moment that there does remain in France any fair object for attacks such as bis book is made up of would be merely absurd. The few lingering relics of the old world in Paris are addressed in his first chapter in these consolatory phrases :
Be not afraid, pious souls-I will not shock your ears by any profane pleasantries. Such things might indeed be useful in Germany, where, at this moment, it seems desirable to neutralize the influence of religion ; since, in fact, we Germans are, in that respect, much in the situation of France before her revolution, when Christianity was inseparably connected with the old system of government. The one could not be shaken so long as the other kept its hold on the multitude. It was necessary that Voltaire's cutting laugh should make itself be heard, before Samson could let his axe drop.
The meaning of all this is simply that, before Mr. Heine and his friends can overthrow the German governments, and remodel German society on a purely democratical system, the Bible must be rendered as obsolete at Berlin and Vienna as it has become in Paris. The Germans must enthrone their Voltaire as the undoubted autocrat of their literature and philosophy, before they can hope to see the guillotine of their Samson play freely at the bidding of their Robespierre. We need not ask who, in Mr. Heine's opinion, is best entitled to issue his decrees from the Ferney of Germany.
But the Christianity of Germany was never, says Heine, the same thing with the Christianity of France and he ascribes this to the essential difference between the antique pagan religions of the two nations. The ante-Christian religion of France was the graceful mythology of Greece and Rome-her popular superstitions were, in like manner, whencesoever derived, light and airy as hier climate. In such a country, the best method of assaulting Christianity would necessarily be to revive the “ elegant materialism of classical antiquity: and such was the course of the Encyclopedists. But the ancient German religion was a very different thing-it survived the establishment of Christianity, and the Lutheran Reformation also, in a very different shape-its primitive influence still lives and breathes at the bottom of the national mind: cleared from the degrading admixtures of the barbarous Christian middle age, it has been revived in the inspirations of the greatest authors and artists
of these latter times : the pantheism of the Hercynian Forest must be appealed to by the German Voltaires, just as the materialism of pagan Greece and Rome afforded the French wits a groundwork whereon to plant their engines for the demolition of French Catholicism. Our English readers will hardly believe that such a theory as this, a mere antiquarian hypothesis, can be the substratum of the whole system of a political sect, active, and daring, and determined, now at work all over one of the most enlightened countries of the Christian world; but such is the fact—and we must extract some of the extraordinary passages in which this apostle of pantheism labours to prove, first, that the revolutionists of Germany must, as far as Germany is concerned, adopt weapons wholly unlike those of their French predecessors and rivals; and, secondly, that there is nothing more fit and rational than that the two different systems of warfare, with all their discordant machineries, should ultimately be combined in a general assault for one and the same European purpose.
The French writers have fallen into a great mistake when, led astray by some German doctors, they admit that, during the middle ages, the popular superstitions of all Europe bore the same stamp. It was only as to the good principle that the Church of Rome kept all in harmony, and proclaimed every wanderer from the prescribed opinion a heretic. As to the evil principle, the empire of Satan, views varied according to climates; and this happened because the Christian priesthood did not reject the old national divinities anywhere as empty dreams, but, granting them a real existence, only degraded them from gods to devils, who, having lost their power over mankind by the victory of Christ, were ever striving to re-establish it by craft and the temptations of sensuality. All Olympus was now a hell; and the dark anathemas of the monks fell with special severity on poor Venus, who passed for a favourite daughter of Beelzebub.
• The ancient faith of Europe, but more particularly of the north, was pantheistic. Its mysteries and its symbols rested on the worship of nature. In each element they adored a marvellous being : in every tree there breathed a divinity: all the phenomena of the sensible world were deified. Catholicism reversed all this: in place of deifying nature, she diabolized it. But the gay and smiling images of the Greek mythology, invented by artists amidst the early civilization of the south, were not so easily changed into Satanic masks as the gods of Germany, in the creation of which no artistic conception had been consulted—which were essentially as dismal as their climate. Thus, in France, it was impossible to erect an empire of the devil as black as with us; and the world of spirits and sorcerers assumed a serener shape. How beautiful, brilliant, and sparkling are the popular legends of France compared with ours—with those melancholy creations, so dark, savage, cruel, so saturated with blood and mist! Your fairies, and so forth, wherever you got them, whether from