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develop that which lay embryonic in his mind. Our own Davy, three years his junior, gained the prize. Still, the fruits of his labour did not fail ; his · Théorie du Jeu 'had made its way to the Institute, where it was unanimously pronounced the work • d'une tête forte.' The Inspector of the Bourg College had also pronounced Ampère's pupils to be forwarder than any others, and an appointment to a professorship de * Lycée' at Lyons itself was the result:
Ampère had now reached the summit of his wishes—a more lucrative appointment, and that with his wife at his side. But Julie had sad presentiments : she was, as it were, behind the scenes. One of her last letters gently prepares him : · The • problem of regaining health is not one for us to solve. No wishes of ours can obtain that, if the Master of our Being has
decreed otherwise. Mon ami, we were made for each other, • and, if I were well, we should be too happy.' The end was not far off. The journal takes up the narrative of a period of intense anxiety. “J'espère en Vous, Omon Dieu ! mais je • serai soumis à votre arrêt, quelqu'il soit. Mais j'eusse pré* féré la mort.' And then finally, “O Seigneur, Dieu de misé
ricorde, daignez me réunir dans le ciel à celle que vous m'avez • permis d'aimer sur la terre.' Julie Ampère died in July 1804.
Ampère is next found in Paris, where he accepted an appointment at l'École Polytechnique, and subsequently became Inspector-General of the University. The history of his mind is here continued by a correspondence with his Lyonese friends. Foremost among these was the printer, Simon Ballanche, a name of high moral and intellectual import, of whom we shall hear more. Ampère sought to drown his sorrow in work. But mathematics and geometry had no balm for such a wound. He was lonely and miserable, for Parisian manners at that time offered no congenial society for a bereaved and virtuous young man. He writes to his friends : · Pray for me, that I may con
tinue to feel unhappy rather than become like too many I see • here.' He had been piously brought up in the communion of Rome, and, with the friends alluded to, had taken an active part in a society for the purpose of scientifically studying the grounds of the Christian religion, in opposition to the scepticism and sensuality of the day. But these foundations threatened now to crumble under his feet. He was not the first mourner to find that the usual religious formulas are apt to melt away before the fury of that furnace; or to have experienced that minds of a certain calibre need a strength of conviction not so much intended to be the present support as the final fruit of intense mental anguish. It was not so much his own sufferings, as the revelation they gave him of what the human mind could suffer, which shook his faith. Ampère's happiness was ever dependent on that of his fellow-creatures. It was said of him what can be said of few men: * Pour lui, le moi n'est rien. A mind so constituted and so tried turned naturally upon itself. He plunged accordingly for a time with feverish eagerness into the study of metaphysics, and could discuss and think on no other subject. The good people at Lyons took alarm for his orthodoxy. Ballanche, one of the few French mystics who has left his mark on modern French literature - who had himself learned the secret of sorrow,' and endorsed that knowledge with the following significant words: “We should be far less ' surprised to suffer, if we knew how much better sorrow is
adapted to our nature than pleasure'_ Ballanche, at that time so out of suits with happiness as to meditate embracing a monastic life-he, ever patient where Ampère was ever impetuous—now wisely admonishes his friend not to apply the sounding lead too audaciously to his own mind. But the wisdom of the advice went no further. The remedy proposed by anxious friends, and even by Ballanche, was more dangerous than the evil. Perceiving the loneliness of the young widower, and forgetting that there were unions worse than any solitude, the only specific they could urge was the speedy choice of a second Madame Ampère !
We here enter that conventional atmosphere, ever repugnant to the English mind, which in France too often envelops all the antecedents of the closest tie in life. How deeply these conventions are rooted in French private life is sufficiently obvious by the fact that Ampère himself should have believed and acquiesced in the plan. In this instance alone he descends from his rightful pedestal; not by a second marriage, but by the cold-blooded process by which Julie was replaced. A young lady, chosen by the usual interposition of friends, ignorant of the exceptional nature of the man she married, and incapable of honouring it; with a mother true to M. Mohl's definition of ' la férocité des mères françaises '; soon revenged the slight put on poor Julie's memory. To such women the simplicities and blunders, as well as the soaring aspirations of genius were a continual offence, and one interpreted as being especially levelled at themselves; and Ampère soon found himself sent to Coventry with a far more intolerable solitude than he ever endured before. The young woman did not await the birth of her child to seek a judicial separation from its father. The Courts decided unhesitatingly in Ampère's favour, and a letter of dignified kindness calling upon her to return to him and to
VOL. CXLIII. NO. CCXCI.
nvitationharacters. Mazgives as
' notre enfant '— whose birth meanwhile had only been communicated to him by the porter of the · École '-gives a sufficient measure of their respective characters. Madame Ampère declined her husband's invitation—the little · Albine 'was claimed and welcomed by the father with a 'tendresse de mère,' while the mother herself never inquired for or saw her child again.
No one conversant with the property of genius will ask whether these reverses affected any change in the mind of this gifted and artless man. It is not in the nature of genius to change. It is one of those elementary essences which is incapable of transmutation. Things the most diverse have sometimes the same characteristics; and genius, like folly, takes no lesson from experience. Ampère returned to Lyons, chiefly to entreat his mother to leave her residence and form her home, with the little Jean-Jacques and Albine, under his roof in Paris. On this occasion the journal of an old friend has bequeathed a sketch of Ampère too vivid to be omitted here:
• Ampère met me with a troubled look, but his sufferings have not changed him. There is always the same activity of mind; the same fire, the same exaltation, the same tenderness. Nothing more restless (mobile) than his ideas, nothing more persistent than his character. He told me the details of his marriage catastrophe, of which his letters had given me but a feeble picture. What petty malices ! He had allied himself to a creature of a different species to himself. And, on his part, not the commonest perception of human character; no reflection, no common sense; all weakness, credulity, and improvidence. He threw himself headlong into the net prepared for him. In telling me the indignities to which they had subjected him, with tears in his eyes, he was overcome with such intense grief, that I knew not how I should turn the subject; when, at the mere word “ métaphysique," accidentally uttered, he became at once another man, setting himself with incredible and inexhaustible vehemence to unfold to me his system of ideology. The next moment his boy asked him the name of a plant, and forthwith he expounded to him the systems of Tournefort, Linnæus, &c. &c.—then came astronomy, then religion—no end !'
But though his friends shook, as he expresses it, the dust from off their feet against his favourite idéologie,' Ampère never forsook the study of metaphysics. Nor did it ever arrest the ardent search of this universal student into more inaterial phenomena. His fame chiefly rests on his discovery of the identity of the magnetic and electric forces. By him alone was the complex and apparently inextricable action of the two currents analysed and classified under the condition of an elementary law. Nor has the more than half century of study and progress which has since elapsed changed or shaken one syllable of his definitions. In his upward and ever-widening
Aight he detected and recorded other tracks of discovery, and suggested their application, though time was denied him to work them out. Among these may be especially mentioned the modern use of telegraphy, which he as much anticipated as Sir Humphry Davy that of photography-in each case sufficient proofs of the fact being left. Meanwhile that august Body which dispenses the highest recognition genius can aspire to, and which has continued its sittings and annals unshaken by wars or revolutions, elected him among their number. He became a member of the Institute in 1814. He was far, however, from imbibing the stoicism of the body as regards the astounding events of the time. In various passages we trace the course of French history, though far more in his compassion for the soldiers under arms than in any enthusiasm for their leader. However impressionable his imagination, Buonaparte, even at the height of his success, never kindled it. But how acutely he could feel his country's reverses is thus expressed after the battle of Waterloo: 'I am like the grain between two millstones. I cannot express the anguish of my heart. I can hardly bear my life. At all hazards I must flee from those who only repeat to me, “ You will not suffer personally; "as if it could be a question of self in such catastrophes.'
We turn now to the young son of André-Marie's happy days-equally as his father a glutton for knowledge and a fanatic for work-equally also at the mercy of the most ardent feelings both in love and in friendship. Happily his mental organisation was not of so susceptible and anxious a kind, while as to common sense, the mere fact of living much with his father ensured him a rather larger share. No ménage could have afforded two alike in that respect. In short, Jean-Jacques knew the world better than André-Marie did, though, compared with any but him, he was one of the most unworldly men living. André-Marie doated on the boy, which doubtless accounts for certain sorrowful entries regarding wilfulness and insubordination. The threat of a school by way of punishment failed signally, except in distressing himself. Jean-Jacques shows ' no concern in hearing this plan discussed. It would seem, 'though he dares not own it, that he will be rather glad to go
away from me.' To school, accordingly, the boy went, to his great gain in every way. For, in spite of all the living instruction perpetually flowing from his father, it may be doubted whether he would have been so favourably developed at home. The elder Ampère was wont to say of himself that he knew as much of mathematics at eighteen as could be acquired at that time. And it was a great disappointment to him that Jean
certain pohe threat of messing himself. sed. It would stores
Jacques did not inherit his ardour for that science. He entertained alternately one of two aspirations for his son-either that he should become a great mathematician, or, if that were impossible, that he should take to some mercantile career in which he could make a fortune. For André-Marie had suffered too much from poverty not to wish to avert a like experience from his son. But Jean-Jacques disappointed his hopes in both respects, being as invincibly indifferent to money as he was to mathematics. The boy's letters to his father in these volumes - commencing when he was sixteen--are remarkable in every way. The mind is clear in its views, and frank in telling them, while the style of expression is, what it ever continued, most unmistakeably true to his native country. He was born in 1800, and writes as follows in 1816:
*I am at this moment undecided as to my future mode of life; but do not, I pray, be distressed at this. Before determining on the career of a manufacturer it is necessary to reflect maturely. Il y va du bonheur, il y va de bien plus, il y va de la gloire. Do not think that I set myself against the idea. I have the best disposition in the world to be persuaded by you, but if you fail to persuade me I will tell you.'
Again, a few days later, in a more grandiloquent style :
“My decision is made; Je veux être QUELQUECHOSE ; but I am arrived at a point where it would be impossible for me to become a marchand. My taste is pretty equal for letters and for science, which is rare; but commerce is the one thing for which I have an invincible aversion. Shall then the despicable desire for gain induce me to embrace such a career ? Quoi dong? Is the mind of a boy, for eight years, to be perpetually stimulated by grand examples to the most noble and generous sentiments, especially that of disinterestedness, and at the end of that education is he to be told that all this is only a tas de bêtises, and that he is to be sent to rot at a counter! With all the paths of life open to me why should I choose one so wretched ! Rather preci. pices than mud!'.
The bent of Jean-Jacques' mind was especially for letters, and the works by which he subsequently made himself known fully vindicated the predilection. Few writers, even in that country where style is the sine quà non of literary reputation, have expressed purer sentiments in purer language. While still at school also, and liberated from the dread of the countinghouse, Jean-Jacques carried off the principal prizes, and showed those powers of thought which had been equally inherited and early educated. Under these circumstances André-Marie soon transferred his paternal ambition into a less scrdid channel, and, true to his impulsive nature, went almost