Page images

philanthropic sentiments and generous outbursts of passionate eloquence, which come on the feelings unexpectedly, and never fail to produce a corresponding excitement in the heart of the listener. I shall shortly return to his glorious canticles; but meantime, as we are on the chapter of wine, by way of contrast to the style of Béranger, I may be allowed to introduce a drinking ode of a totally different character, and which, from its odd and original conceptions, and harmless jocularity, I think deserving of notice. It is besides, of more ancient date ; and gives an idea of what songs preceded those of Béranger.

Les Eloges de l'Eau.

Wine Debtor to Water,

AIR“ Life let us cherish.'

Il pleut ! il pleut enfin ! Rain best doth nourish
Et la vigne altérée

Earth's pride, the budding vine
Va se voir restaurée Grapes best will flourish
Par un bienfait divin.

On which the dewdrops shine.
De l'eau chantons la gloire, Then why should water meet with scorn,

On la meprise en vain, Or why its claim to praise resign? C'est l'eau qui nous fait boire When from that bounteous source is born

Du vin ! du vin ! du vin ! The vine! the vine! the vine !

C'est par l'eau, j'en conviens, Rain best disposes
Que Dieu fit le déluge ;

Earth for each blossom and each bud;
Mais ce souverain Juge True, we are told by Moses,
Mit le mal près du bien ! Once it brought on

a flood :" Du déluge l'histoire

But while that flood did all immerse, Fait naître le raisin ;

All save old Noah's holy line, C'est l'eau qui nous fait boire Pray read the chapter and the verse

Du vin ! du vin! du vin ! The vine is there! the vine ! Ah! combien je jouis Wine by water-carriage

Quand la rivière apporte Round the globe is best conveyed ;

Des vins de toute sorte Then why disparage Et de tous les pays !

A path for old Bacchus made ? Ma cave est mon armoire- When in our docks the cargo lands

A l'instant tout est plein ; Which foreign merchants here consign, C'est l'eau qui nous fait boire The wine's red empire wide expands

Du vin ! du vin! du vin ! The vine! the vine! the vine! Par un tems sec et beau Rain makes the miller

Le meunier du village, Work his glad wheel the livelong day ; Se morfond sans ouvrage,

Rain brings the siller, Il ne boit que de l'eau ;

And drives dull care away :

Il rentre dans sa gloire For without rain he lacks the stream, Quand l'eau rentre au And fain o'er watery cups must pine ; moulin;

But when it rains, he courts, I deem, C'est l'eau qui lui fait boire The vine! the vine! the vine !*

Du vin! du vin ! du vin !
Faut-il un trait nouveau ? Though all good judges
Mes amis, je le guette ;

Water's worth now understand,
Voyez à la guinguette Mark


chiel who drudges Entrer ce porteur d'eau ! With buckets in each hand; Il y perd la mémoire He toils with water through the town,

Des travaux du matin ; Until he spies a certain “sign,” C'est l'eau qui lui fait boire Where entering, all his labour done,

Du vin! du vin ! du vin ! He drains thy juice, O vine ! Mais à vous chanter l'eau But

pure water singing
Je sens que je m'altère ; Dries full soon the poet's tongue ;

Donnez moi vite une verre So crown all by bringing
Du doux jus du tonneau- A draught drawn from the bung
Ce vin vient de la Loire, Of yonder cask, that wine contains

Ou bien des bords du Rhin; Of Loire's good vintage or the Rhine C'est l'eau qui nous fait boire Queen of whose teeming margin reigns

Du vin ! du vin ! du vin ! The vine! the vine! the vine!

A“ water-poet” is a poor creature in general, and though limpid and lucid enough, the foregoing runs at a very low level. Something more lofty in lyrics and more in the Pindaric vein ought to follow ; for though the old Theban himself opens by striking a key-note about the excellence of that element, he soon soars upward far above low-water mark, and is lost in the clouds—

“Multa Dirceum levat aura cycnum ;" yet, in his highest flight, has he ever been wafted on more daring and vigorous pinions than Béranger ? This will be at once seen. Search the racing calendar of the Olympic turf for as many olympiads as you please, and in the horsepoetry you will find nothing better than the “Cossack's Address to his Charger."

* This idea, containing an apparent paradox, has been frequently worked up in the quaint writing of the middle ages. There is an old Jesuits' riddle, which I learnt among other wise saws at their colleges, from which it will appear that this Miller is a regular Jde.

2. “Suave bibo vinum quoties mihi suppetit anda ;
L'ndaque si desit, quid bibo po

R.“ Tristis aquam !"

Le Chant du Cosaque. Viens, mon coursier, noble ami du Cosaque,

Vole au signal des trompettes du nord : Prompt au pillage, intrépide à l'attaque,

Prête sous mo ailes à la mort. L'or n'enrichit ni ton frein ni ta selle,

Mais attends tout du prix de mes exploits : Kennis d'orgueil, ô mon coursier fidèle,

Et foule aux pieds les peuples et les rois. La paix qui fuit m'abandonne tes guides,

La vieille Europe a perdu ses remparts ; Viens de trésors combler mes mains avides,

Viens reposer dans l'asile des arts, Retourne boire à la Seine rebelle,

Où, tout sanglant, tu t'es lavé deux fois : Hennis d'orgueil, ô mon coursier fidèle,

Et foule aux pieds les peuples et les rois. Comme en un fort, princes, nobles, et prêtres,

Tous assiégés par leurs sujets souffrans, Nous ont crie : Venez, soyez nos maîtres

Nous serons serfs pour demeurer tyrans ! J'ai pris ma lance, et tous vont devant elle

Humilier, et le sceptre et la croix : Hennis d'orgueil, ô mon coursier fidèle,

Et foule aux pieds les peuples et les rois. J'ai d'un géant vu le fantôme immense

Sur nos bivouacs fixer un wil ardent; Il s'écria : Mon règne recommence;

Et de sa hache il montrait l'Occident;
Du roi des Huns c'était l'ombre immortelle ;

Fils d'Attila, j'obéis à sa voix
Hennis d'orgueil, ô mon coursier fidèle,

Et foule aux pieds les peuples et les rois.
Tout cet éclat dont l'Europe est si fière,

Tout ce savoir qui ne la défend pas, S'engloutira dans les flots de poussière

Qu’autour de moi vont soulever tes pas Efface, efface, en la course nouvelle,

Temples, palais, mæurs, souvenirs, et lois Hennis d'orgueil, ô mon coursier fidèle,

Et foule aux pieds les peuples et les rois.

The Song of the Cossack.

Come, arouse thee up, my gallant horse, and bear thy rider ou !
The comrade thou, and the friend, I trow, of the dweller on the

Pillage and Death have spread their wings ! 'tis the hour to hic

thee forth, And with thy hoofs an echo wake to the trumpets of the North ! Nor gems nor gold do men behold upon thy saddle-tree; But earth affords the wealth of lords for thy master and for thee. Then fiercely neigh, my charger grey! — thy chest is proud and

ample; Thy hoofs shall prance o'er the fields of France, and the pride of her

heroes trample! Europe is weak—she hath grown old-her bulwarks are laid low; She is loath to hear the blast of war—she shrinketh from a foe! Come, in our turn, let us sojourn in her goodly haunts of joyIn the pillar'd porch to wave the torch, and her palaees destroy! Proud as when first thou slak’dst thy thirst in the flow of conquer'd

Seine, Aye shalt thou lave, within that wave, thy blood-red flanks again. Then fiercely neigh, my gallant grey! — thy chest is strong and

ample! Thy hoofs shall prance o'er the fields of France, and the pride of her

heroes trample! Kings are beleaguer'd on their thrones by their own vassal crew; And in their den quake noblemen, and priests are bearded too ; And loud they yelp for the Cossacks' help to keep their bondsmen

down, And they think it meet, while they kiss our feet, to wear a tyrant's

crown! The sceptre now to my lance shall bow, and the crosier and the cross Shall bend alike, when I lift my pike, and aloft THAT SCEPTRE

toss! Then proudly neigh, my gallant grey! — thy chest is broad and

ample; Thy hoofs shall prance o'er the fields of France, and the pride of her

heroes trample! In a night of storm I have seen a form!—and the figure was a GIANT, And his eye was bent on the Cossack's tent, and his look was all deKingly his crest — and towards the West with his battle-axe he

pointed; And the “form" I saw was ATTILA! of this earth the scourge


fiant ;

From the Cossack's camp let the horseman's tramp the coming craslı

announce; Let the vulture whet his beak sharp set, on the carrion field to pounce; And proudly neigh, my charger grey!-0! thy chest is broad and

ample ; Thy hoofs shall prance o'er the fields of France, and the pride of her

heroes trample! What boots old Europe's boasted fame, on which she builds reliance, When the North shall launch its avalanche on her works of art and

science ? Hath she not wept her cities swept by our hordes of trampling

stallions ? And tower and arch crush'd in the march of our barbarous battalions ? Can we not wield our fathers' shield ? the same war-hatchet handle ? Do our blades want length, or the reapers' strength, for the harvest

of the Vandal ? Then proudly neigh, my gallant grey, for thy chest is strong and

ample; And thy hoofs shall prance o'er the fields of France, and the pride of

her heroes trample!

In the foregoing glorious song of the Cossack to his Horse, Béranger appears to me to have signally evinced that peculiar talent discoverable in most of his lyrical impersonations, which enables him so completely to identify himself with the character he undertakes to portray, that the poet is lost sight of in the all-absorbing splendour of the theme. Here we have the mind hurried


with irresistible grasp, and flung down among the wild scenery of the river Don, amid the tents of the Scythians and an encampment of the North. If we are sufficiently dull to resist the impulse that would transport our rapt soul to the region of the poet's inspiration, still, even on the quiet tympanum of our effeminate ear, there cometh the sound of a barbarian cavalry, heard most fearfully distinct, thundering along the rapid and sonorous march of the stanza; the terrific spectre of the King of the Huns frowns on our startled fancy: and we look on this sudden outpouring of Béranger's tremendous poetry with the sensation of Virgil's shepherd, awed at the torrent that sweeps down from the Apennines,

“Stupet inscius alto Accipiens sonitum saxi de vertice pastor.There is more where that came from. And if, insteaż of

« PreviousContinue »