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Her health! and would on earth there stood
Some more of such a frame,
LOOK out upon the stars, my love,
And shame them with thine eyes,
Of blending shades and light:
Sleep not!-thine image wakes for aye
Within my watching breast;
Sleep not!—from her soft sleep should fly,
Who robs all hearts of rest.
Nay, lady, from thy slumbers break,
And make this darkness gay,
With looks whose brightness well might make
Of darker nights a day.
BORN in Greenfield, Mass., 1802. DIED in New York, N. Y., 1880.
THE GREAT FRENCH CRITIC.
[The New-York Tribune. 1869.]
AINTE-BEUVE obtained his reputation as the critical historian of
the literary activity of France during a considerable portion of the last half-century. Born in 1804, his early manhood was devoted to professional studies, with no thought of making literature the occupation of his life. It was not long, however, before his sensitive taste grew weary of the repulsive details of anatomy, and other studies preparatory to the practice of medicine, and the prospect of spending his days in the chamber of disease-the witness of human infirmities which he had no power to alleviate presented no charm to his youthful imagination. His de
cision was soon made, and he abandoned the study of medicine for the pursuit of literature. The first-fruits of his new career were one or two romances, and a few poems, which, though marked by a certain subtlety of mental analysis, gave few indications of inventive power, and have been entirely eclipsed by the splendor of his subsequent productions. With the exception of his elaborate historical work on the recluses of Port Royal, his pen was henceforth devoted to critical studies, which have introduced a new method into that branch of literature, and now remain a permanent monument of the rare versatility and acuteness of his mind. Within the period of his activity, few works have appeared in the province of belles-lettres on which he has not recorded his mature judg ments. He was equally at home in poetry, fiction, history, biography, in all the productions of imagination and taste-excluding only the fruits of abstract speculation and of physical research, which opened too wide a field for the labors of a single intellect, however comprehensive,although his favorite themes related to the portraiture of character as exhibited in the creations of genius.
The critical faculty of Sainte-Beuve consisted in the sagacious application of what may be called the psychological method to the judgment of literary productions. The estimate of a book with him was not only the exercise of high artistic skill, but the result of a keen mental analysis. It was an intellectual labor, no less profound, no less conscientious, of a no less responsible character, than the solution of a scientific problem or the composition of a history, although it was one into which he threw his heart so completely that it betrayed no odor of midnight oil, but had all the freedom and airy grace of spontaneity. He regarded a book not as a collection of verbal wonders, an exhibition of rhetorical artifices, or a display of personal ambition, but as "the precious life-blood of a master-spirit," suited to be the nutriment and medicine of coming ages; and those which did not in some degree approach to this standard had no power to touch his imagination, and were passed by with as little interest as though they had been unwritten leaves of parchment or papyrus. The human aspect of a book, so to speak, was of more importance to him than its literary relations. It was the exponent of the author's soul, rather than a cunning composition of prose and verse. Hence, although a consummate judge of literary art, his criticisms of a work dwelt less on the external form and expression than on the inward spirit and creative idea which presided at its birth. The actual accomplishments of a writer, in his view, were of not so much moment as the intellectual motive which gave the impulse to his endeavors. No man, certainly, ever excelled Sainte-Beuve in the happy faculty of reproducing the contents of a work of genius, of expressing the essence of a large volume in a brief essay, and of reporting the exact measurement of