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JOHN AND CHARLES MOZLEY,
6, PATERNOSTER ROW ;
NEW YORK: WILLMER & ROGERS.
Art. 1.-Eugénie de Guérin. Journal et lettres publiés avec
l'assentissement de sa famille. Par G. S. Trebutien, Conservateur adjoint de la Bibliothèque de Caen. Didier,
Paris. 1863. 2. Maurice de Guérin. Journal, lettres et poèmes. Publiés par
G. S. Trebutien. Didier, Paris. 1863.
THERE is something deeply affecting in the announcement that the French Academy has accorded two grand prizes of 3,000 francs each to writings, the author of which has been fifteen years beyond the reach of human praise or blame ; indeed, which were primarily composed without a thought of their meeting any eye but that of the favourite brother for whom the occurrences and thoughts of the day were set down. Primarily, we say, for at first the brother was the sole object of the writings to which we refer, though latterly, when the diary had become a solace, though the original motive no longer existed, the following sentences occur, as if in self-excuse for the time spent
“Sometimes I say to myself, “What is, or what will be, the use of these pages ?” They were only of value to him, to Maurice, who found bis sister there. What does finding myself there signify to me? But if I find an innocent amusement there--if I find there a rest from the toils of the day—if, in order to place them there, I make up the nosegays, gathered from my wilderness, in solitude, my events and my thoughts, given me by God to teach or to strengthen me, oh, surely there can be no harm in it! And if some heir of my cell should find them and meet with some good thought, which he may relish and be the better for, if only for a moment, I should have done good. I will do it. No doubt, I dread the loss of time, that price of eternity; but is it losing it to use it for one's own soul and other people's ?'--1840. January 24th.-P. 334,
This, however, was only written when the estimation in which these journals were held by the friends to whom the brother had shown them had revealed to the author that relative value of talent in the world which experience cannot fail to make known,
NC. CXXIII. —N.S.
even to the humblest. In general, the great charm of the journal of Eugénie de Guérin is its perfect simplicity and, if we may use such an expression, its homely refinement. It is also most interesting and remarkable as an unconscious revelation of the working of the Roman Catholic system on a reflective and intellectual character.
Eugénie and Maurice de Guérin, for it is impossible to separate the brother and sister, were the children of a country gentleman of Languedoc, of historical name, originally Italian, inheriting some of the best blood in the country, numbering cardinals, knights-hospitaliers, and troubadours among his collateral ancestors, but of small means; farming his own unproductive little estate of Le Cayla, near the town of Gaillac, and living a life among his neighbours which reminds us of Madame de la Rochejacquelein's description of Vendéan manners before the Revolution; associating freely with farmers, who came to talk of their cattle in the evening, and going into the village to arrange the preliminaries of a peasant marriage. His château was a most lonely place, apparently scarcely accessible except on horseback, perched upon a steep hill and with a terrace in front, whence a slope led to a green valley through which a streamlet flowed. The house was, judging by a small print of it, of the tall slim form peculiar to everything French, and retaining so much of the old defences, that it had an extinguisher turret and none of the older windows near the ground. Within, Eugénie thus describes it :
Our rooms all white, without mirrors or any trace of luxury; the diningroom with a side-board and chairs, and two windows looking towards the northern wood; the other parlour beside it, with a large wide sofa, in the middle a round table, straw chairs, an old tapestry easy chair ... two glass doors leading to the terrace.'—1840. August.-P. 399.
So lonely was this abode in winter, that the sight of a crow or the visit of a beggar was an event; but in summer it was a favourite resort of numerous relations and acquaintances living at Gaillac. The family consisted of four children, Erembert, Eugénie, Marie, and Maurice. Eugénie was born in 1805, Maurice in 1811; and when, five years later, the mother died, there remained that peculiar and beautiful inheritance of maternal love that so often links the eldest daughter of a bereaved family to the youngest and weakest member. And weak and tender Maurice evidently was to an unusual degree. The mother had left an inheritance of consumption, and the Italian and Provençal natures combining in the family, produced in two at least of its members intellects of ardent poetical fervour, lodged within tender delicate frames, sensitive to every outward influence. Clinging, affectionate, and full of sensibility, Maurice would have