Unfortunately, however, the brilliant epoch of the alliance of Liberalism and Catholicism, represented on its literary side by Chateaubriand and by Lamartine, to whose poetic school Herculano had belonged, was past, and fanatical attacks and the progress of events drove this former champion of the Church into conflict with the ecclesiastical authorities.
He is the Magyarizer of Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra, Othello, Macbeth, Henry VIII., Winter's Tale, Romeo and Juliet and Tempest, as also of some of the best pieces of Burns, Moore, Byron, Shelley, Milton, Beranger, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Goethe and others.
ALPHONSE MARIE LOUIS DE PRAT DE LAMARTINE (1790-1869), French poet, historian and statesman, was born at Macon on the 21st of October 1790.
The family of Lamartine was good, and the title of Prat was taken from an estate in Franche Comte.
Lamartine was in Switzerland, not in Paris, at the time of the Revolution of July, and, though he, put forth a pamphlet on "Rational Policy," he did not at that crisis take any active part in politics, refusing, however, to continue his diplomatic services under the new government.
As the reign of Louis Philippe went on, Lamartine, who had previously been a liberal royalist, something after the fashion of Chateaubriand, became more and more democratic in his opinions.
At the revolution of February Lamartine was one of the first to declare for a provisional government, and became a member of it, with the post of minister for foreign affairs.
For a few months indeed Lamartine, from being a distinguished man of letters, an official of inferior rank in diplomacy, and an eloquent but unpractical speaker in parliament, became one of the foremost men in Europe.
But no one can permanently carry on the government of a great country by speeches from the balcony of a house in the capital, and Lamartine found himself in a dilemma.
This was creditable to both parties, for Lamartine, both as a distinguished man of letters and as a past servant of the state, had every claim to the bounty of his country.
As a statesman Lamartine was placed during his brief tenure of office in a position from which it would have been almost impossible for any man, who was not prepared and able to play the dictator, to emerge with credit.
But Lamartine could hardly have guided the ship of state safely even in much calmer weather.
Lamartine had the advantage of coming at a time when the literary field, at least in the departments of belles lettres, was almost empty.
Lamartine did not himself go the complete length of the Romantic revival, but he went far in that direction.
They appeared when Lamartine was nearly thirty years old.
The best of them, and the best thing that Lamartine ever did, is the famous Lac, describing his return to the little mountain tarn of Le Bourget after the death of his mistress, with whom he had visited it in other days.
As a prose writer Lamartine was very fertile.
Lamartine in short occupied a kind of half-way house between the 18th century and the Romantic movement, and he never got any farther.
Lamartine has been extolled as a pattern of combined passion and restraint, as a model of nobility of sentiment, and as a harmonizer of pure French classicism in taste and expression with much, if not all, the better part of Romanticism itself.
But it is difficult to believe that Lamartine can ever permanently take rank among the first order of poets.
The edition mentioned is the most complete one of Lamartine, but there are many issues of his separate works.
De Lamartine added a volume of Lettres to him.
De Pomairols, Lamartine (1889); E.
Deschanel, Lamartine (1893); E.
Zyrowski, Lamartine (1896); and perhaps best of all in the Preface to Emile Legouis' Clarendon Press edition of Jocelyn (1906), where a vigorous effort is made to combat the idea of Lamartine's sentimentality and femininity as a poet.
Lamartine tells us that the Arabs regard the trees as endowed with the principles of continual existence, and with reasoning and prescient powers, which enable them to prepare for the changes of the seasons.
The work was in fact the first attempt to substitute for the popular representations of Thiers and Lamartine the critical investigation which has been carried on with such brilliance by Taine and Sorel.
There are only two who are at all comparable to him - Guizot and Lamartine; and as a statesman he stands far above both.
But both failed - Lamartine almost ludicrously - while Thiers in hard conditions made a striking if not a brilliant success.
He may be said to have played in Russia to some extent the part played by Lamartine in the French Revolution of 1848.
But a glorious peace was required; it must not be said that "France is bored," as Lamartine had said when the Napoleonic legend began to spread.
The country seemed to forget him; Lamartine alone foretold that the honours paid to Napoleon I.
Thus he was able to be a candidate for this formidable power, which had just been defined by the Constituent Assembly and entrusted to the choice of the people, "to Providence," as Lamartine said.
To these works should be added his monuments to "Cardinal Lavigerie" and "General de La Fayette" (the latter in Washington), and his statues of "Lamartine" (1876) and "St Vincent de Paul" (1879), as well as the "Balzac," which he executed for the Societe des gens de lettres on the rejection of that by Rodin; and the busts of "Carolus-Duran" and "Coquelin cadet" (1896).
He and Lamartine held the tribune in the Chamber of Deputies until the Parisian populace stopped serious discussion by invading the Chamber.
At the crisis of the 15th of May he definitely sided with Lamartine and the party of order against the proletariat.
On the 24th of February 1848 he pronounced in favour of the republic. Lamartine chose him as minister of education in the provisional government.
De la restauration (Paris, 1860-1878); Alphonse de Lamartine, Hist.