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meanwhile, discussions continued as to the to this movement was somewhat singular. He proper relations between Church and State. felt himself alternately attracted and repelled. In place of the old ecclesiastical ordinances He sympathized with the sacrifices of the adopted at Basle in 1793, the council of state clergy, but he could not understand the paroccupied itself in 1837 with the preparation tial grounds on which alone they sought to of a new ecclesiastical constitution, which, defend their secession. He complained of their before bringing up for adoption to the grand inability to grasp the real importance of their council, it submitted to delegates of the four position, and aimed to convince them that the classes of clergy. Vinet was appointed dele- step which they had taken, under the force gate for the class of Lausanne and Vevay of circumstances, was not a pis aller, but a The sittings of the delegates were public, and step glorious and momentous to the Church. may be said to have been devoted to the He urged his ecclesiastical views in “Consiwilole range of the ecclesiastical controversy derations” addressed to them; but there were that had so long agitated the canton. Such few comparatively that he could raise into questions as the admission of the laity to the the same clear atmosphere of conviction with government of the Church, and adherence to himself. Even the Evangelical Society of the Helvetic Confession of Faith, were pru. Geneva, in its General Assembly of 1846, minently discussed. On both of these ques. protested, by two of its most eminent memtions Vinet ranged himself once more in op bers, against the importance attached to such position to the ultimale decision of the go- merely ecclesiastical questions. D'Aubigné, vernment. In reference to the important their President, complained that there was point of adherence to.the Helvetic Confession, given to such questions a place which only the part taken by him is well worthy of at- belonged to the cross of Calvary: M. Gaustention. He did not defend the Confession sen, in a report on the theological school, proconsidered in itself—as in all its parts a tho claimed that the best church is that which roughly accurate or adequate exbibition of speaks least of the Church and most of Christian truth; but he maintained the essen- Christ. These were among the last assertions tial relation subsisting between the two terms on the subject to which Vinet made reply. church and symbol. It was necessary in his. It was thus that, in the closing years of his opinion that the Vaudois Church should have life, Vinet returned to questions which had a symbol, and, symbol for symbol, he pre-occupied his youth. He preached tolerance ferred that which was known to that which to a persecuting people. He preached the was unknown—that which represented an bis spirituality of the Church to a clergy whose torical faith to that which would probably demission, he believed, had not sufficiently prove a mere series of negations.
impressed them with this great principle. He The new ecclesiastical constitution came labored, at the same time, till the state of his into operation in 1841. Vinet did not think health rendered this no longer possible, in the it in his power to accept the régime to which actual formation of the communion which it submitted the Church ; and accordingly, in was born of the Demission. Although him. the end of 1840, he withdrew from the na- self, we bave seen, a dissenter of older standtional Church, setting forth the grounds of his ing, he attached himself to this communion determination in a letter addressed to his cle- and exercised his ministry in it. A project rical brethren of the class of Lausanne. He of a constitution was presented to a synod resigned at the same time his office as Pro- which met at Lausanne on the 10th of Nofessor of Theology. He appears, however, vember, 1846, and was remitted by this synod to bave continued privately his theological to a committee of nine members, who were lectures, and again, in 1844, connected him to report upon it at the commencement of self openly with the Lausanne Academy as the following year. Vinet was a member of temporary Professor of French Literature. this committee, and hastened to expound in
The Vaudois revolution of 1845 constituted the “Semeur” the principles which he conthe actual triumph of that wild democracy sidered indispensable as the foundation of which was only iemporarily stayed by the such a work. These principles he reduced constitution of 1830. The ecclesiastical con- to three. The first contemplated not merely sequences which followed this triumph are the admission of the laity to the councils of well known. A direct collision arose imme- the Church, but the modification of the mindiately between the clergy and the govern- | istry itself, so that there should be different ment, and soon thereafter terminated in a orders for preaching and ruling. The second large secession of ministers from the national proposed that the simple fact of secession, Church, The position of Vinet in reference and the profession which such an act implied,
should constitute the terms of admission into ticle, *) and on Pastoral Theology. He prothe church. The third sought to adjust the posed collecting his papers on Pascal, (since relations between the church as a whole and done by his friends,) in which he defends that its different congregations. There was to be illustrious Christian thinker from the charge a general church-a church of the canton; of philosophic Pyrrhonism, advanced against but every separate church—every ecclesias- him by Cousin. He spoke of a selection of tical monad—was to be the centre of au- sermons from Bossuet, and of a new translathority for itself. The independence and tion of the “Imitation," with preface and proper life of the church were considered notes. He had already made arrangements io be bound up in this principle, which se- for the publication of a History of French cured as much liberty as unity permitted, Literature in two volumes. He thought even and as much unity as was compatible with of writing a grammar. Such was, nevertheliberty.
less, the degree of debility to which he was The committee did not limit itself to the reduced, that he was scarcely able to proceed revision of the project submitted to it, but from his bed to his lecture-room. At length prepared a new work, which was presented he was forced to abandon all his professional to the synod in the month of February, 1847. duties, and on the 20th of April he was conThis work was composed of two parts—a veyed to Clarens. He bore the journey betproject of constitution for the Free Church ter than was expected, but any hopes of his of the canton of Vaud, and a report contain recovery were of sbort duration.
“ Vinet ing an exposition of the principles on which knew clearly," writes M. Scherer, “ the graythe project was based. This report in its ity of his situation. At the same time, as he most essential parts was from the pen of had not made of his heart two parts, the one Vinet. The influence which he exercised in for the world and the other for God, so neithe committee was not however transferred ther did he make of his life two divisions, the to the synod; and the result was, that not a one for living and the other for dying; but few of his proposals and principles met with he continued up to the last moment to occustrong opposition, and were ultimately re- py himself with the thoughts and labors jected, or at least so modified as to leave which had filled his life.” He continued to them scarcely the same as when they came take a lively interest in literary matters. His from his hand. There is reason to think that last pleasure in this way was the perusal of he deeply felt this defeat of his cherished Lamartine's History of the Girondists. In views. ' Prevented by the state of his health the beginning of May, on Sabbath the 2d, his from taking an active part in the labors of sufferings greatly increased, and for the few the synod, he gave vent to his feelings in the last days he was unable to speak much. He pages of the Reformation, in the form of a is supposed to have purposely abstained from jetter to a member of this assembly. He had such statements as are often collected and reannounced a second letter, and even dictated cited from the lips of the dying.—having the commencement of it from his couch of cherished always a distaste for such recitals. suffering, when death put an end to this and The only memorials that have been preserved all his other labors.
of his last moments are expressions of affecFor some time the health of Vinet had tion and humility. One of his friends having been a subject of great anxiety to all his said that he would pray earnestly for him, friends, and he was urged to seek repose. he replied, “You could scarcely pray for a But the spirit was willing, though the flesh creature more unworthy.” At another time was weak; and in the commencement of this he asked pardon for all the offence-so he very year, (1847,) besides the ecclesiastical expressed himself—which he bad given by labors we have mentioned, and from which his impatience and intolerance. He left the throughout his whole life he had scarcely following message for his son :-" Tell him rested, he was busy with many literary pro- that he persevere in the love of Jesus Christ, jects. He cherished the intention of retiring since he has found it.” On Monday evening to Clarens, and devoting himself there in he appeared better, and there seemed yet a quietness to the execution of extended plans glimmering of hope. His sister and Madame of authorship which he had long contem- Vinet, worn out with fatigue, went to take plated. He desired especially to revise some repose. A friend remained with him. and complete his Courses of Lectures on the These were their last words of conversation. Practical Philosophy of Christianity, (of which we have only some fragments in * Essais de Philosophie morale et de Morale reone of the volumes at the head of this ar- I ligieuse. VOL XXXIII.-NO. III.
“What shall I ask for you ?” said his friend. the grammar as a species of geometry. The “ Ask for me?" replied Vinet, “all grace, even second edition of this work he enriched with the most elementary." At one o'clock in the various fragments in the form of letters, in morning his breathing became heavy and his which he communicated the fruits of bis long sufferings returned. They continued to the meditation on his favorite task, and treated end, but without any great struggle or ago-cursorily of language and the study of literaпу. .
Some one asked a question. “I can no ture. An historical survey of French literalonger think,” he answered; and these were ture, which formed the introduction to the bis last words. He expired at four o'clock third volume, was also entirely recast for this in the morning, on the ioth of May, 1847. edition, and so admirably accomplished its
A great multitude from Vevay, Lausanne, object, as to draw from critics a warm tribute and even Geneva, met to pay the last duties of praise. “It was a veritable literary chefto one whom they had so much admired and d'ouvre,” wrote M. Sainte-Beuve, “at once loved. A monument raised by his friends full and finished.” marks the place where Vinet rests, in the In 1831 tbe Semeur was commenced, and cemetery of Clarens, on the summit of a this journal formed henceforth for many years smiling hill, in one of the most beautiful spots the centre of Vinet's literary activity. It in the world.*
might be said, according to M. Scherer, to be
his journal, so much was it indebted to his In turning now to the writings of Vinet, we pen, and determined in its character by his feel that it would be a vain task to criticise | influence. Especially was it the depository them in detail. They are at once so diversi- of those literary criticisms which he delightfied and so fragmentary. We shall best ac. ed to throw off, with such easy fertility, and complish our purpose by rapidly glancing at in which he manifested such aptitude as to his successive publications, and endeavoring lead some to consider them his special work to gather up from them his most prominent and calling. characteristics as a man of letters and a di. A famous course of lectures on the French vine. It is necessary to consider him, to some Moralists, which he delivered at Basle during extent, separately under these aspects; but the winter of 1832, deserves special mention. we would by no means lose sight, even tem- | The success which attended them was reporarily, of the one character in the other. markable. The felicitous union of literary It is, in truth, impossible to do so from any criticism of the most delicate and searching right point of view in which our author can character with a vein of profound and ingebe regarded. For, as will be fully apparent nious moral sentiment, was something quite in the sequel, it is just the very unusual com- new and striking. Among the many regrets, bination of exquisite literary taste and skill remarks his biographer, which are left to us with the depth and comprehensiveness of the from the interrupied career of Vinet, one Christian philosopher, which imparts to the of the most lively is that which arises from name of Vinet its highest lustre.
the impossibility of our ever possessing as a Literature was the idol of Vinet's youth, whole these memorable lectures. We have and although graver employments ofien in only some fragments of them published in terrupted his literary ardor, he still clung to the Semeur. it, and, at different intervals, recurred to elab- In 1837 he collected certain of his miscelorate plans of literary preparation. He had laneous writings, and published them in a already in Basle, amid bis more ordinary func. separate volume, under the title of Essais de tions as a teacher, begun his literary career. Philosophie morale, one of the works before In 1829–30 he gave to the public his first These Essays, as the title indicates, bear work, entitled Chrestomathie Française, which in the main on a common topic. “One train appears to have been intended as a sort of of thought pervades them, and is reproduced text-book for the use of his classes in the under diverse applications.” They cannot Gymnasium. It was based upon a principle be said, however, to exhibit any thing of the to which he attached great importance in the unity of a treatise, while several merely literateaching of languages-viz., the communica- ry criticisms are added to fill up the volume. tion of instruction in the concrete, from the The Introductory Essay of this collection actual text of some author, instead of the is among the most characteristic of all Vinet's common abstraệt method of teaching from productions. It is devoted to the considera
tion of those seeming intellectual contradic* For the details of these paragraphs we are indebted to M. Scherer,
* Introduction, p. ii.
tions —"dualities," he calls them - which suggestions of a more genial, and reverent, meet us everywhere as we push backwards and comprehensive philosophic spirit, it asour speculative inquiries. He brings out into suredly does not yet present itself as a clear clear and sharp prominence a great variety and complete doctrine. of such antinomies, to use the more exact The other Essays in the volume treat of Kantian expression; and dwells strongly on such special subjects as the freedom of the the impotence of all mere Eclecticism to re will— the nature and principle of morals—the solve them-pointing at the same time to the standard of morals—utilitarianism—individirection in which he is disposed to seek their duality and individualism. They all bear solution. It will be felt by all who have abundant marks of Vinet's literary skill, but grappled with such difficulties, that Vinet is, they do not in this respect claim from us ang as ever, more successful in the exposition of particular notice. the problem than in the hints which he throws We hasten to introduce to the reader those out towards its solution. We believe no less
We believe no less more purely literary productions of his pen strongly than he did that Christ is the great which his friends have collected since his centre of mediation bere, as in all respects, death, in the three large volumes at the head and that in the "gospel alone there is a key of our paper, entitled “ Etudes sur la Littéra
all doors ;" but it is utterly to teur Française au dixneuvième Siècle," and in mistake the true character of that reconciling his other writings on the History of French power which lies in . Christianity, to ascribe Literature. * The chief foundation of the to it, as he would seem to do, a purely intel three volumes is the lectures which he delectual as well as moral force. Christ came livered at Lausanne during the years from not to resolve the enigmas of human philoso | 1844 to the close of 1846, while he occupied ply, but to restore the harmony of human the chair of French Literature there, in room life. If the Christian, therefore, finds a re- of his friend M. Monnard. This, indeed, apfuge in the gospel from the oppression of pears to have been one of the most brilliant those intellectual contradictions which have periods of Vinet’s intellectual activity. Rabeen in all ages the torture of speculation, pid, ingenious, and fruitful, as is the display it is not because he is enabled to see with the of his powers in these volumes, they convey intellectual eye more clearly than others, but but little idea of the real resources and charm because he is enabled to repose in the per- of his lecturing. This, according to one of fect peace which flows to bim from the Cross, bis auditors, was “in its form and method of amid all speculative difficulties whatever. We the highest character. Free from all pedantwould not say with Vinet, therefore, “this ry and scholastic coldness, it was at once word (the Cross) reorganizes thought and the lively and profound, thorough and copious. world,” but simply, this word reorganizes the The effusion of bis whole soul into the souls world, and, through the practical unity which of his pupils—it was eminently fertile and it brings, prepares the way, if not for specu: creative, inspiring as much as merely instructlative unity, yet for speculative submission. ing. No one ever went from his lectures To proclaim any thing more than this, is, we without some spark of that enthusiasm which believe, radically to misrepresent the truth, a noble and sympathetic spirit always kindles and to gainsay the most obvious and unde in the hearts of the young.” M. Sainteniable evidence all around us. A Christian Beuve has added his testimony to Vinet's Philosophy-a satisfactory solution of the problems which meet us wherever we penetrate to the depths of Christian thought-is
* Messrs. T. & T. Clark, of Edinburgh, have just still notoriously a desideratum; and if the issued a translation of Vinets posthumoue History
of French Literature in the Eighteenth Century, traces of it may be discerned at length by founded on his last Course (see list at the head of the patient and thoughtful eye among the this article) - a work of great interest, which rare powers as a lecturer. Entering his class | possible to imagine any one more free from room one day unexpectedly, he reports—“Iihe slightest taint of that Puritanism which listened to a lecture profound and elevated apprehends danger in the genial impulses of to an eloquence grave and earnest. In lan- literary enthusiasm. But, amid his most perguage exquisitely finished, weighty and yet fect abandonment to the charms of literature, animated, the lecturer unfolded his rich men- he never, for a moment, ceases to be a Christal treasures, - what a profound and genial tian. You can never, in his freest sketches, and complete impression of a Christianity trace the least coldness of evangelical feelthoroughly real and spiritual ! .... I have ing. No one is farther from all the plausinever tasted a purer mental joy, nor experibilities of latitudinarianism. With æsthetic enced a more lively exaltation of moral senti- sensibility most acute, and a mental organiment.'
abounds in illustrations of the profound views and
broad literary sympathies of the author, and is the . This subordination of speculation to practice, first attempt to estimate the literary age of Fonteaccording to the condensed pith of Christian philo- nelle, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau, from a sophy, expressed in the pregnant words—"If ye do Christian point of view. the will of God, ye shall know of the doctrine The mention of this subject suggests another whether it be of God”—is, indeed, elsewhere dis-work, recently translated from French literature tinctly acknowledged by Vinet; and in the Essay into our own. We refer to Voltaire and his Times, in question he probably did not mean to teach an by L. F. Bungener. (Edinburgh, Constable & Co., opposite doctrine, although his concluding para- 1854.) This fascinating work should be in the graphs, in their peculiar emphasis, would seem to
hands of all who are interested in that memorable point to such a conclusion,
period in the history of France and of Europe.
zation tremulous to all the impulses of artistThe whole of the extended criticisms on ic delight, it is noble to see how rigorously Madame de Staël and Chateaubriand, which he owns all the claims of the gospel, and fill the first volume of collected “Studies," how thoroughly its life is transfused through appear to have been given during this pe- all his criticisms. In this respect his intelriod, as well as the criticisms on the contem-lectual character is perhaps more significant porary French lyric and dramatic poets, than in any other. There has been so long, which compose the second volume. The re- and there continues to be, in many relations, maining volume consists mainly of selections so strange a repulsion between literature and from the author's critical papers in the Se- Christianity. The literary spirit, in the antimeur.
thetic language of M. Scherer, is so apt to These “Studies” furnish us with abundant become pagan—the evangelical spirit so apt means of determining the literary merits and to become puritan. It is, above all, through character of Vinet. He ranges with a free the example of such men as Vinet, combining and facile pen through the most diverse sub- both in such rare purity and perfection, that jects--commenting with equal copiousness not only their thorough compatibility will be on such writers as Beranger and Victor Hugo fully shown, but their divine fitness to adorn on the one hand, and D'Aubigné and Sainte- and beautify each other brightly illustrated. Beuve on the other. All subjects and wri- We need scarcely say, that in thus signalters—if they be only French, for he does not izing the Christian spirit which breathes seem to have interested himself inuch in fo through all Vinet's literary criticisms, we are reign literature-come to the critic alike. far from meaning to suggest that they bear Philosophy, history, eloquence, poetry, are generally a theological stamp. Not in the bandled with the same apparent ease and least degree. Save in one or two instances mastery; and especially, it is deserving of -as in his review of Lamartine's Jocelyn and notice, in their subtle and less obvious bear- Soumet's Divine Epopee, where he is led, ings on the interests of religious thought and from the professed nature of the subjects, to feeling. For in the midst of all his diversity, enter into something that may be coosidered Vinet never forgets that he is a Christian theological discussion--he is singularly free critic. On the contrary, he acknowledges it from theological as from every other sort of at all times to be one of his main duties to pedantry. No one, indeed, could be more penetrate beneath every sphere of intellectual destitute of professional narrowness of every activity, and to lay bare the principles there kind. His sympathies range so freely as to at work in relation to the gospel.
defy those formal bounds which, in ordinary This feature of Vinet's literary career pos- cases, confine the intellectual taste. Everysesses for us peculiar interest. "Manifesting where he rejoices to recognize traits of the everywhere a wide and hearty appreciation, beautiful and the good--rays, however bro- . and shutting his mind to no aspect of intel- ken and deflected, from the great Source of lectual beauty, he yet carries with him every all truth. This dramatic peculiarity of his where a Christian spirit. You feel yourself genius, which enables him to enter so heartito be in the presence of one whose whole in-ly into the views and feelings of the different tellectual being lives only in the atmosphere writers whom he criticises, is one of the most of Christian truth, and which, instead of lim- delightful features of his “Studies.” Always iting his mental range, or blunting his mental in the writer he recognizes, and, wherever he keenness in any direction, has only given to can, honors the man. the one a more elevated scope and to the In their more general character these other a finer edge. He abandons himself to “Studies" are remarkable for being in the the charms of literary excellence. It is im- strict sense criticisms. They are not disser