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The word “désenchantement” is a sorrowfullysounding word. I know not why it has been coined and incorporated in the French language sooner than in our own, unless it be that that nation have arrived at the melancholy crisis sooner than the English. A recent writer in Paris, contrasting the times in which we live with those of past history, has pronounced this to be emphatically “ le siècle des désenchantements.” The romance of chivalry, the enthusiastic devotion of religious zeal, the prestige of aristocracy, the inviolable sanctity of the throne,-all are probed if not penetrated, discussed if not destroyed by the
cold and cutting weapons
of reason. And oh! if in the history of nations, and even of worlds, there seems to be indeed some inevitable point at which this melancholy process is destined to commence, how forcibly and how painfully true is the observation as applied to the individual biographies of each of us ! Few have lived to attain the maturity of man's estate without perceiving that the work of disenchantment is begun within them. The thoughts, the feelings, the hopes, the joys, the generous confidence, and the open candour of youth,—above all, the disinterested love which blended and softened passion with the serenest and kindliest affections of the heart, “and made a glory in a shady place,” all these are fled. And it is well, perhaps, for the business and the practical affairs of life that it should be so. It is well even in the ordinary and every-day preferences which we are led to form by the attractions of beauty or the fascinations of manner, that the work of " désenchantement” should be almost as easily accomplished as the prepossession conceived.
How many a love-match has been spoiled by the mis-spelling of a single word, or badly turning of a single phrase in the first letter of the heroine ! How